Military families turn to internet to reach loved ones in Japan

March 17, 2011 5:48:53 PM PDT
It's a frustrating time for military families in the United States worried about their loved ones stationed in Japan. Many families are taking to the internet to keep in touch.

For members of the military, being stationed in Japan is often a family affair. Now, many spouses and kids are trying to evacuate including from the Yokosuka Naval Base just south of Tokyo. But as one Houston woman found out, getting them back home is difficult.

"They're not telling us anything, nothing," said Doris Walker.

She is a worried grandmother. With a son-in-law in the Navy, her daughter and three grandchildren are all in Japan and she wants them home.

"It's been extremely stressful. We can't communicate with our daughter. Their power keeps going off and if they go off, we can't talk to her," Walker said.

Stacey Faircloth, her three kids and her husband were scheduled to return to the U.S. in May, but everything changed with the earthquake. Even though the Yokosuka Naval Base is hundreds of miles from hard-hit Sundei, Faircloth told us on the phone that they just want to get home.

"Because we are military, we're not struggling as much as the Japanese community, but we're feeling it. And with the language barrier it's very difficult to get information," Faircloth said.

Faircloth and others have turned to Facebook. On the Yokosuka Facebook page, the commander writes, "If and when there is a voluntary base evacuation, information will be put out."

But families are frustrated; one writes, "I am sooooo confused! What does "if" and when mean?!?! Are we going to evac or not?!?!"

And another writes, "When are the buses coming??? I want to leave and want to know what to do."

For her part, Faircloth says unless families have money to buy their own plane tickets, they have to wait until the Navy evacuates them.

"We're very ready to leave," Faircloth told us.

Walker says she knows daughter and grand kids are OK, she just wants them home sooner.

"Being in the Navy, that's a sacrifice in itself. You think the government, whomever, would provide them and get them out of a dangerous situation," Walker said.

Family members told us those who could afford to buy full-price commercial tickets are leaving every day. Everyone is hoping to be evacuated by the military in the next few days.