The world was stunned to see the surreal and horrifying effects of the massive earthquake in Japan. But it may be doubly devastating for those who fear for loved ones overseas.

The world was stunned to see the surreal and horrifying effects of the massive earthquake in Japan. But it may be doubly devastating for those who fear for loved ones overseas.

Since the earthquake, Japan has felt hundreds of aftershocks, some with a magnitude of 6 or greater. A 30-foot tsunami that struck not only Japan but Hawaii and the west coast of the U.S. after the earthquake caused further destruction, causing thousands of people to relocate from their homes in search of safer ground.

Lorrie Helling, of Newark, has a sister who lives in Hawaii. At 6 that morning she texted, “Are you OK?”

Her sister replied, “We slept with our life jackets on.”

Vicky Daly, mayor of the village of Palmyra, has friends who live in southern Japan. Late last week, she had not heard whether they were affected.

“We are very concerned for them,” she said. “We honestly don’t know if the southern islands were affected.”

She is hoping her friends are all right, since the southern part of the country is more prone to typhoons than earthquakes.

In the days following the record-breaking earthquake and tsunami devastated Honshu, Japan, vivid images of the destruction and stories of survival still have the world captivated.

David Cywinski, a doctor with Finger Lakes Bone and Joint Center in Newark, knows what the people of Japan are going through — he’s seen it firsthand. Last year, he traveled to Haiti as part of relief efforts. Working in a tent, he worked hours treating hundreds of people who’d been injured, battered and bruised. People that had lost everything.

While the devastation in Japan is immeasurable, he said it is different on a few levels.

In Haiti, the infrastructure wasn’t built to handle an earthquake. Japan, however, more prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific rim, has used state-of-the-art technology in many of its buildings, as well as in levees and trenches, in anticipation of earthquakes and tsunamis.

In Haiti, there were few roads — and all of them were destroyed, making it difficult for any organized response, Cywinski said.

“There’s an infrastructure in Japan, a well-organized infrastructure, which was lacking in Haiti,” Cywinski said. “The buildings in Japan are designed to withstand earthquakes; the buildings in Haiti were brick and mortar, poorly designed (and) could not withstand any of the devastation.”

But the scale of the earthquake itself was much stronger in Japan, Cywinski said. On the Richter scale, 9.0 is much higher than 7.0, Cywinski said. And more damage came from the tsunami that hit, with waves as high as 13 feet seen by some witnesses.

“I’ve seen trailers from movies that look like they’re from apocalyptic themes, and that’s what it looked like,” Cywinski said.

The effects of Japan’s earthquake were felt half way around the world, not in the form of tremors, but a huge tsunami that was heading for Hawaii.

Roger Vanderbrook, former Newark resident and Newark High School graduate, was vacationing with his wife on Maui when news of the earthquake in Japan rocked television stations around the world. Vanderbook said they were staying in a hotel listening to the news about the tsunami heading for the Hawaiian coast. It was Thursday evening.

“At first it was a tsunami advisory,” Vanderbrook recalled. “It was like at home when we get a snow advisory. Then it became a tsunami warning.”

Sirens sounded all across the island warning of the impending danger, but there was no panic, Vanderbrook said. Unaccustomed to such an emergency and admittedly a bit nervous, Vanderbrook said he went down to the hotel’s front desk to inquire about the recommended course of action.

“They were a little blaze,” he said.

Hotel management gave Vanderbrook two options: He could pack up his belongings from his third-floor hotel room, move up to the sixth floor and camp out in the hallway; or they could head for higher ground.

With their rental car in an underground parking lot and not finding the idea of meeting a tsunami face-to-face appealing, Vanderbrook and his wife opted to head for higher ground. Packing a few essentials and some snacks, they joined the flow of traffic seeking to avoid the flood waters. It was 10 p.m. when the couple parked off the road on a hill where they spent the night. News reports from the car radio predicted the tsunami would hit around 3 a.m. At 3:15 a.m. the huge wave reached the coast, but there was only silence for the Vanderbrooks sleeping, like so many others, in their car alongside the road.

By 6 a.m. Friday, the couple was back at the hotel and any hint that a tsunami threatened was absent, Vanderbrook said. There was little to no damage except in the harbor.

Still enjoying their Hawaiian vacation, the Vanderbrooks have not been deterred from having some island fun by the unexpected adventure.

“It gives you something to talk about,” Vanderbrook said. “They’re already selling ‘I survived a tsunami’ T-shirts here.”

Ready for action

Local organizations are poised to deploy help halfway around the world. Already, the Salvation Army is using its international reach to start relief efforts.

Commissioner Makoto Yoshida, leader of the organization’s Japan territory, announced Friday afternoon that they will be sending a team to Sendai, the hardest hit area, to provide basic necessities and asses the damage.

Public transportation in Tokyo has stopped, and Yoshida said the Salvation Army headquarters were opened to those who couldn’t go home.

The American Red Cross of the Finger Lakes is collecting donations to help earthquake and tsunami survivors in Japan, but is not yet sending volunteers.

Leighton Jones, director of disaster and emergency services for the organization, said the local focus is mostly on areas of the West Coast and Hawaii affected by the tsunami. Local officials are keeping a close eye on the situation and are prepared to send help if needed, he said.

“There has been a lot of activity with setting up evacuation shelters along the coast,” Jones said. “As we learn more about the disaster, we may become involved.”

—Includes reporting by Messenger Post staff members Melissa Daniels, Julie Sherwood, Mike Maslanik and Tammy Whitacre