Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS, LA - After the news broke of the devastation in Japan, it wasn't hard to find people in this area who were worried about loved ones near the sight of the earthquake.
Local relatives spent anxious hours waiting to hear from family members.
It was a busy afternoon during lunch for workers at Shogun Japanese restaurant in Metairie. But the morning hours brought a lot of anxiety for employees who have loved ones in Japan.
"I checked up on her on Facebook so she's doing okay. (They felt) 7.9 (on the Richter scale), but she was really scared so," said Julie Ariyamath, a waitress at Shogun, about her cousins.
Through social media, she not only learned of her cousins' safety, but the emotions of what they lived through.
"Gabby was scared. She was asking for her mom and (Gabby's Father) wasn't there at the time. He was at the Air Force base but she said that they were so scared. But they're okay though," said Ariyamath.
Another Shogun employee could never get through on the phone and waited five hours before she got word from her brother.
"He texted me and then they're fine and the family and my mother, everybody's fine. But I can not talk to him," said Sachiko Okawauchi.
Social media was also the way Erin McCarthy Beech of Metairie heard that her husband Scott and teen sons Miles and Nate, were okay.
"Mom, tsunami heading for Saipan. We've been evacuated to the top floor of our hotel and we're just waiting," Beech read from her son's Facebook page. "Thank God for social media because my 14-year-old is, you know, very well versed in the social media," said Beech.
The World War II buffs are vacationing, visiting famous battle sites.
"The highlight of the trip was going to be a day on Iwo Jima which is only opened one day a year," said Beech.
Beech says worrying about her brother Michael McCarthy, 53, and his wife and daughter living in Japan, and her own family, although they are all safe, brought back memories of Hurricane Katrina.
"It breaks your heart and it kind of came flooding back that, you know, how many people have perished today in these small towns. And there's absolutely nothing you can do right now except pray," she said sadly.
And her son posted again around 5pm, writing that at this hour, all these hours later, the boys and their father are still at the top of the hotel.