IT is hard to imagine the full impact the earthquake and tsunami had on the residents of Sendai, Japan, but for Kai Delahunty, it is all too close to home.
The 33-year-old grew up in Sendai before moving to Australia 12 years ago and said the recent images of her home town were absolutely devastating.
Now living in Emerald with her husband David and their two children Hana and Takara, Kai said the majority of her family still lived in Sendai and surrounding areas.
While most of them have been located uninjured and well, four of her uncles are still missing.
Kai said she first heard the news of the disaster over the phone after a friend from Japan sent her a text message.
“I got the message and then Sendai was on the news,” Kai said. “It was horrible to see.”
Shocked and worried for her family, Kai said she didn’t know what to do.
“I wasn’t able to contact anyone at first,” she said.
“But I was finally able to get onto my mum and dad and they were okay.”
The mother-of-two said not being able to do anything to help her family was the worst part.
“I should be there for them but I have little children so I can’t be there,” she said.
“They are going through such a hard time.”
Kai said she felt lucky that most of her family were okay considering the tragedies other families were facing, but that she was still very worried for her uncles.
“Every day I wake up and hope it’s not happening, but unfortunately it is,” she said.
“Every day there is a new story. It is heartbreaking.”
Despite the disaster Kai’s mum and dad have been through, she said they were adamant they were fine and wished for Kai to stay in Emerald with her family.
“They say they are okay and not to worry about coming over,” Kai said.
“But I want to go back there and help them.”
Kai said she would wait until the end of next month to see if it was safe enough for her to visit her family.
For now, she plans to contact her family every day in the hope of hearing some good news about her missing uncles.
Kai said Japan had been preparing for an earthquake on the larger end of the scale for years but that preparation just wasn’t enough to prevent the devastation.
“Five years ago the government said ‘we are waiting for the big one’,” Kai said.
“We were expecting it to hit anytime between 2008 and now.
“It is terrible.”
While Kai has only been living in Emerald since January after moving from the Gold Coast, she said she was enjoying the lifestyle of the small town because it reminded her of home in Sendai.
“I like it here because Sendai is more like the country,” Kai said. “And the people are very nice here.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.