• Update on Japan quake — Page 9

As the world watches in horror the devastating effects of the earthquake that struck Japan on Friday, March 11, and the tsunami that followed, the families of David and Diane Garoutte in their hometown of Waxahachie were grateful to learn that they are safe.

The Garouttes live near Yokosuka Naval Base, about 30 miles south of Tokyo. The couple has been able to stay in touch with their loved ones through e-mail, Facebook and limited phone calls. David is the son of Alicia Garoutte and Diane is the daughter of Jerry and Chris English.

“They felt the quake. My brother was at home and the house shook and he said he couldn’t stand up,” said Dolly Clemmons, David’s sister, saying her sister-in-law was driving home from work at the time. “She said it felt like driving on a flat tire – it was difficult to stay on the road. But she wanted to get home so she just held on and went through it.”

The Garouttes’ home was not damaged and their area was not affected by the tsunami, but now the concern is radiation from the crippled nuclear reactors at the power plants. Clemmons said they are about 200 miles from the closest nuclear plant. Due to the rolling blackouts, communications are limited.

“They are very, very fortunate.

 They’ve had over 300 pre-quakes and aftershocks. An earthquake last night was 6.2, so it’s still bad,” Clemmons said. “The base (where Diane teaches) has a contingency plan so if they need to evacuate, there is a plan in place.”

Diane was able to make contact with her father, Jerry English, first and Clemmons said she has been able to talk with them about every other day.

“We found out about noon our time – within about six hours that they were all right. Then the power would go out and we didn’t know,” said Clemmons.

She said they are safe in their location and they have water, but gasoline is in short supply. Tuesday, residents were warned to stay inside due to possible radiation and to try to seal their homes.

“He (David) drove by a gas station and literally the line was over a mile long. Attendants were holding signs saying how much gas you could buy. They filled up on Thursday and all their gas cans as well,” Clemmons said. “The Japanese grocery store opens at 10 and by 12 the shelves are virtually empty.”

She said it wasn’t the quake that caused the most devastation, but the tsunami.

“David said there are little villages along the coast that people may not know about that are gone,” Clemmons said. “They have been there for 13 years and have a lot of friends with family so they packed up water and supplies to take to them.”

Jerry English said they are relieved that everyone is all right.

“She (Diane) is doing well, but worried about the radiation and (possible) evacuation. I told her if they start getting Americans out, they should go,” English said. “They are fine so far. The store shelves are cleaned out and they will run out of gas pretty soon. I’m sure the military can take care of their own, but they live off base.”

English recently retired after 33 years service with the American Red Cross, which he said is working with the Japanese Red Cross Society to provide relief to the disaster victims. He suggested that people who want to help can text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 help the victims of the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami. Donations will be billed to the sender’s cell phone. For more information, visit http://american.redcross.org.

David and Diane both grew up in Waxahachie and although they lived only four blocks apart, never met until they attended college at Texas Tech.

Clemmons said Diane’s sister and brother-in-law were living in Japan and loved it. So, David and Diane applied to go over and teach.

“They live there and they love it. They have made their home there,” Clemmons said, saying their sons were 6 and 8 years old when they moved. “Diana was a teacher at Dunaway Elementary and now teaches reading at the school on the base. David has been here getting his teaching certificate and has applied for a DOD teaching job. He just went back in February.”

The couple’s youngest son, Collin, is now 19 and living in Japan with his parents. Their older son, Will, who is 21 years old, is in Waxahachie attending Navarro College.

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.