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News Wadena, 56482
Wadena PJ
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Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

Most Wadena area residents can remember where they were when they heard of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan - somewhere safe in Minnesota.

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Sara (Hacking) Backstrom, Vicki Pearson and Daryl Pearson were in Hawaii in the path of the waves.

Backstrom, reporter at the Pioneer Journal from 2006-2010, experienced the Wadena EF4 tornado shortly before getting married and moving to balmy Honolulu.

Now she has lived through a tsunami warning too.

The Backstroms heard the warning at about 9 p.m. The regular programming on TV was interrupted by an update on the tsunami. The sirens started at about 10 p.m. with the tsunami expected at roughly 3 a.m.

"We are not in an evacuation area, so we did not have to pack up our stuff and leave," she said.

It helped that they live on the 31st floor of a high rise, too.

"I certainly didn't want to see my community destroyed again," she said, recalling the June 17 tornado.

While they weren't in imminent danger, they prepared for the unexpected.

"We went and bought some bottled water; I filled the tub with water," she said.

Her husband Brent could just walk to the grocery store next door.

"They didn't want people out on the roads, clogging up the roads for people who were trying to evacuate," she said.

Backstrom said that with many connections between Hawaii and Japan, Hawaiians have their minds on what is happening on the other side of the Pacific.

Meanwhile, Vicki and Daryl Pearson of Wadena were on vacation in another island after Vicki's name was drawn in January for KWAD's "Here Today, Gone To Maui" travel prize.

Their seven-day vacation at Kaanapali Beach Hotel coincided with the storm.

Rick Youngbauer of KWAD said Vicki Pearson called the station, and they are all right.

"I don't think it turned out to be a whole lot," he said.

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