SEATTLE -- Sanchie Mikawa tries to focus on work at Seattle's Boat Street Cafe, but work is the farthest thing from her mind.
She checks her phone constantly for news of her mother and sister stranded in Sendai.
"It's been three days but it feels like a couple years," she said. "I'm just tired. Really, really tired."
For days, Mikawa was convinced her loved ones were dead, their hometown of Watari essentially wiped off the map by the tsunami in a matter of just 10 minutes.
"The first thought was, I hope they didn't suffer. I hope it was so instant and so strong that they didn't suffer," she said.
But then came an email and a picture of her 62-year-old mom.
"I couldn't believe it," she said, wiping away tears.
But the joy of knowing her mother and sister are alive was short-lived, as the reality of what was going on around them set in. They survived the disaster but now must endure its aftermath. An email from her sister described the scene at the shelter they're packed into.
"She says it's snowing. It's cold. A lot of the people don't have enough clothing. There's no heat. There are a lot of old people," Mikawa said.
With no where else to turn, Mikawa went to Facebook and told her friends what was going on. Within 24 hours she had collected $5,000 -- much of it from complete strangers. She sent the money via Paypal to her family on Monday. The generosity has left her at a loss for words.
"I don't know...It's amazing," she said.
And as she busies herself with work, Mikawa knows there is still so much more to be done -- but at least now -- she can breathe a bit easier.
"It's going to be okay", she said, with a deep sigh.
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