RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the early moments following the earthquake in Japan, millions of people across the Pacific were put on alert for the tsunami that had the potential to threaten the West Coast. Now most Californians were fast asleep when the alerts came down and in many cases were told of the threat by their East Coast relatives who were already awake watching the coverage on television. One example is my brother-in-law, Joe Bartholomew, who joins me live via Skype from his office at American Ring and Tool, which is just five minutes from the Pacific coast.
Ryan Nobles: Joe, thank you for joining us. You obviously -- the threat turned out to be pretty minor where you are, but tell me, what was it like when you first woke up and you heard the news that there could be a problem where you live?
Joe Bartholomew: Well, I woke up about 5:45 a.m. and I and my wife both woke up to text messages and phone calls from Becky, from people panicked back east. Had a message by about 3:00 a.m. my time from my mother, pretty much acting like, you know, the world is going to end, saying, you know, we heard all this news about tsunami going to crash into California, make sure you're okay. And really, a lot of concern from people back home and my wife had the same thing in text messages – Is the tsunami going to hit you guys? You guys okay? You on high enough ground? A lot of concern coming from the East Coast.
Ryan Nobles: But where you were on the West Coast and the folks that live in that area, did you get the sense that people there weren't as worried as we were back here on the East Coast about this?
Joe Bartholomew: Not at all. I have an employee who lives literally right on the ocean, like his front lawn is the beach in Newport Beach, and I texted him soon after reading those text messages because I had no clue at that time what was going on. We're about ten miles inland, our apartment, and he said people were fishing. He looked out the front window, nothing was going on at all and he didn't know about it either. So to us, it was all kind of much to-do about nothing.
Ryan Nobles: You said there were people fishing. There were reports that some of the beaches in that area were shut down, but were there thrill seekers, people hoping to get on the water, perhaps maybe surf, and say they surfed the tsunami? Was that a common thing you heard around the area this morning?
Joe Bartholomew: Yeah, we heard that in the local news a lot and he actually said people were in the wet suits surfing this morning. I think the waves are big and people want to say I surfed a tsunami.
Ryan Nobles: You see all this devastation in Japan and you obvious live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. Does it make you pause at all and wonder what type of threat you could face? Because it seemed everything happened so fast in Japan and would the same thing happen in California?
Joe Bartholomew: Weirdly enough, I thought about earthquakes more in California when I lived in New York. There have been three since we lived here that were so mild that a pen rolled on my desk. The more you live out here, the more complacent you become. it's really something that the more you live out here, the more complacent you become that it's a threat and we didn't keep supplies in the car trunk anymore.
Ryan Nobles: Thank you so much for joining us and stay safe on the West Coast.
Joe Bartholomew: All right.
See the video at right for the full interview.