Oak Harbor parents frantic over daughter stuck in Japan
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
March 15, 2011 · 3:40 PM
A Facebook message provided an Oak Harbor family with some comfort early Tuesday morning.
Rick and Julie Davies have been anxiously awaiting any word about their daughter, Bethany, since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last Friday. She was teaching kindergarten at a town that was among the hardest hit.
After days of worry, Bethany’s friend in Tokyo finally posted a message on her Facebook page stating that he had received a text from her and that she’s OK.
“The anxiety level lifted a bit,” Rick said, but added that he and his wife won’t breath easy until they hear their daughter’s voice again.
Bethany, 25, is a 2004 graduate of Oak Harbor High School. She studied Asian cultures at Central Washington University and studied abroad in Japan twice, then returned this February to teach kindergarten in the town of Ishinomaki, which is 15 kilometers north of Sendai.
Rick Davies said he was able to find a satellite image of the town of Ishinomaki, which showed devastating flooding. He even found the school where she was teaching and saw that it’s completely surrounded by flood water.
Rick said his daughter should have been at the school in her third-floor classroom when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck. He hopes everyone stayed in the building before the tsunami rolled in.
The town is just 50 kilometers from the damaged nuclear plant that’s been leaking radioactive materials and is in danger of a meltdown. According to Rick, Ishinomaki is high on the list for evacuation due to the risk from the nuclear plant, which means help should be headed his daughter’s way.
Bethany has been a world traveler in her young life. In high school, she volunteered on a mission in Mexico and then worked at a camp for Eskimo kids in northern Canada. Since then she’s traveled to such far-flung places as Belarus, China and, of course, Japan. Her father said scores of well-wishers have left messages on her Facebook account or have called the family after she went missing. The family has been in contact with a number of people in Japan looking for Bethany.
“She’s just an amazing kid,” he said. “She has hundreds of friends all over the world.”
Bethany’s affection for Japan first grew out of her interest in art, particularly graphic novels and anime. Then she took Japanese language classes in high school.
“From that point on, she fell in love,” Rick said.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.