MIAMI (CBS4) – As images of mind-boggling disaster following the record-setting earthquake in Japan arrive, local Japanese Americans reacted in disbelief.

Horoshi Horai prepared sushi at his Maido Restaurant and talked about being desperate for news from back home.

“I couldn’t reach anybody.  I was trying to make a phone call from here.  I couldn’t reach anybody.  So, I have no idea about it right now,” Horai said.

Later, Horai learned his family is okay at the Japanese Business Association near Miami International Airport.

He still grieves for those who did not survive.

“I’m very sorry. The damage is very incredible and disastrous,” Horai said.

Miami resident Jose Fuentes had also been desperately trying to reach relatives in Japan.

“We’re talking cousins, aunts who are close to us,” Fuentes said. “It’s a little unnerving not to know what’s going on.”

The good news is that his family lives in the southern region of Japan, not impacted by the earthquake. But with phone lines jammed and down, he said there was no way of known if everyone was okay.

He checked Facebook and his emails on the hour, hoping to hear from someone.

“I am waiting for my cousin to get on Facebook more than trying to get on the phone because I know that’s the way we’re going to find out,” Fuentes said.

Jose was lucky, he would later receive a text message from a relative that everyone was okay.

Meanwhile, golfer Ryo Ishakawa’s face was creased with worry at the Cadillac Championship in Doral. He said he was beyond distracted and is devastated.

At the Kyojin Japanese Restaurant in South Miami both employees and customers spoke about helping.

“It’s a good opportunity I think for us and the people there to come to the rescue and meet the needs.  Usually tragedies bring the best out of us,” said Philippe Assis of Miami.

With the entire Pacific Rim under tidal wave watch, people from other countries were also on edge Friday.

“I’m thinking about my family back in the Philippines.  I’m hoping and praying that they’ll be okay,” said Bertina Colmanares.

By the light of day Friday, it was revealed that Hawaii had been spared after a tsunami warning alerted the islands.

But across the great expanse of ocean in the Land of the Rising Sun it continues to be quite a different story.

The Japanese consulate in Miami is offering help for those who need it by calling them at 305-530-9090. Also, AT&T made TV Japan, the 24-hour Japanese news channel, available for free to all U-verse TV subscribers so they can keep up with the latest news and recovery efforts from Japan. TV Japan will be available to all U-verse TV customers through March 17 on channel 3680.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )


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