WNY'ers Survive Disaster In The Pacific

March 11, 2011 Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

March 11, 2011 Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) The earthquake that hit Japan was 8.9 on the Richter scale, one of the largest in its history. The disaster hit home for many people here in Western New York.

Linda Roberts-Singh is originally from the Buffalo area. She and her family now live just outside Tokyo. Singh was at her son's school when the earthquake hit. The entire class hid under tables.

"My son, who is cheerful, who is nine, he thought it was fun like an amusement ride. He was just laughing but his teacher was gripping my hand so tight. We thought this was it. It really felt like the second floor was going to collapse. She started praying and I started singing songs," Singh said.

Ester Maynard, 26, from Clarence is traveling across Japan on what her mother calls a trip of a lifetime. Channel 7 talked to her mother Diane Maynard who is here in Western New York. She said her daughter moved from Tokyo further inland just before the quake. She is safe and contacted her mother a few hours after the disaster. Diane said waiting for her daughter's message was the longest few hours of her life.

"I'm imagining people are going to move inland and possibly where she is. I can't even imagine the chaos," Diane said.

But both groups agree that this tragedy would have been even more chaotic if it wasn't for the Internet. Singh and Maynard were able to get in contact with family and friends through their emails and Facebook when cell phone service was scarce.

"Went around the campus and all of my friends, I checked on all of their kids and emailed their parents. Because I knew as a mom all of those parents are in Tokyo terrified," Singh said.

Now, Singh said what is left is not only cleaning up the devastation but also helping people deal with the loss of so many lives.