Earthquake rocks an East Texas family - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Earthquake rocks an East Texas family

By Annette Falconer –bio|email
Posted by Elizabeth Thomas – email

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) – The devastation from Japan's earthquake and tsunami has traveled across the world to right here in East Texas.

One East Texas woman, whose daughter and family were right in the middle of the disaster, sat down and talked to KLTV's Annette Falconer.

Joni Gates was in a hotel room late Thursday evening, when her family got the nerve-wracking phone call.

"She turned the light on and she put her arm around me and she said, ‘Joni, there's been a catastrophic earthquake in Japan,'" Gates recalled.

With a simple Facebook message, her heart was relieved.

A few hours later, Gates spoke to her daughter, Michelle, and heard about the earthquake first hand, "The dishes started rattling, the TV was falling off the stand, pictures were swinging on the walls, and she decided it's time for me to get out."

Gates' daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live in Tokyo, Japan. The family wasn't together when the quake hit. Michelle had to walk to her daughter's school to make sure the nine-year-old was alright.

"When she reached the school, the kids were all strapped into their helmets and huddled together, but they were all safe," says Gates.

Gates said her son-in-law works in the heart of downtown Tokyo.

"He said you couldn't even stand, furniture tossed about."

Even though they're still apart, Joni is grateful to know every member of her family is safe.

"We are very blessed, very very thankful to God that they are where they are, and we're spared."

According to Joni, her daughter's family fears the nuclear power plant outage more than anything right now, and they have plans to move south if they need to.

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