Locals’ loved ones affected by disaster

Published 7:00 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

A natural disaster from the other side of the world is impactingthe lives of a handful of Brookhavenites caught in its path.

A magnitude 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japanearly Friday morning is affecting the friends of one localdaughter, the duties of another and possibly the life of athird.

Kelsey Britt, 22, is waiting to hear from her friends in Japan atthe center of the disaster; 22-year-old LaShundra Hill is watchingthe waters rise around Hawaii and the U.S.S. Port Royal, on whichshe serves as a Navy seaman; and 24-year-old Lauren Smith Case ison alert on the Pacific coast of Washington.

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All three have checked in with their mothers, Suzanne Britt,Jennifer Hill and Tawanda Smith, in Homeseekers Paradise.

“We just kind of made a plan – make sure you have gas in the car,make sure you have some cash. If they tell you to get out, getout,” Suzanne Britt said about the conversation with her daughter.”She lives in Hollywood, so she’s pretty far inland, but we’reconcerned. We’re waiting to see what happens on the WestCoast.”

Kelsey has friends in Japan who are, so far, safe from the dangers.A Japanese major at Washington University in St. Louis, she spent ayear studying in the island nation.

LaShundra Hill, meanwhile, has already seen the waters rise aroundPearl Harbor, Hawaii, where she’s stationed. The first waves of thetsunami hit around 8 a.m. Friday and measured about 3 feet.

“She called me this morning and said she’s doing OK, just scared,”Jennifer Hill said of her daughter. “She said the water is stillcoming on land, but everything is pretty calm right now.”

Things aren’t quite as alarming for Lauren Smith Case, who was offfor a normal day of work at Island Hospital near Seattle Fridaymorning. Her husband, 25-year-old Collins Case, is currentlydeployed away from nearby Whibbey Island Naval Air Station to theMiddle East with the Navy.

“None of the schools are closed, but they’re under an advisory,”said Tawanda Smith. “She’s having a normal day so far, just kind ofwaiting like everyone else.”