A family in Japan with valley ties is on the move

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno resident Colin Dougherty is relying on e-mails to track his brother and sister-in-law's journey across Japan. The couple lives in a Japanese farmhouse in the Ibaraki Prefecture, but left after the home suffered severe damage in the quake. "They slept in their car for two days and lived out of their automobile. Simply because they had no water, no power, no electricity," said Colin Dougherty.

The couple did have supplies ready. In an email to Action News, Colin's brother, Jim, said they'd experienced small to medium sized quakes monthly during their 21 years in the home. He went on to say, "When the March 10th quake hit, we knew instantly that this was 'The Big One'. We moved quickly to our yard. Positioning ourselves away from the house and our garden, that has many tall trees, we watched and waited. Within 15 seconds, the main jolt arrived. Our house looked like a can of paint in one of those automatic shaking devices."

When Jim finally contacted his brother in Fresno, the couple was staying with family in Tokyo. But they moved again, fearing the radiation threat was worse than what the government is reporting. "The last thing he wanted to do, since he knows the country so well, is to be caught up in some sort of mad rush to get out of Tokyo. You can imagine what it would look like if they said, evacuate this area. You couldn't," said Dougherty.

In emails to Colin, Jim described long gas lines, more than a half a mile long. Now, Jim is on the move again, to a destination and future unknown. "He's not running. He's just trying to figure out the best place to go, to settle down and address what's happening to his family," said Dougherty.

Colin Dougherty said his brother seems to be in good spirits and is traveling with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. Another daughter is trying to leave the country for Italy, where her husband has family.

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