Harrison County

Biloxi couple worries for nephew as Hawaii braces for tsunami

While Hawaii braces for tsunami waves triggered by the earthquake in Chile, Biloxi residents Joni and Ron Goodman are waiting anxiously for text updates about their nephew, a surgical resident in Honolulu.

Joni Goodman last saw her sister’s son at a family gathering at Thanksgiving. Drew Jacques Brown, 30, from New Orleans, is in his third year of orthopedic residency at The Queen’s Medical Center, the largest private hospital in Hawaii.

Goodman was at the BBQ Throwdown in D’Iberville early today when she got the first text from her sister, Lauri Guimont telling her that Brown went to work on his day off to prepare for any medical emergencies from the flooding the tsunami may cause.

Meteorologist expect the tsunami’s impact will be greatest in such spots as Hilo Bay on Hawaii Island and Kahului Harbor in Maui, where waves could reach as high as six to 10 feet. Elsewhere, waves will likely be only about two to three feet.

However, the Goodmans are still concerned for their nephew’s safety.

“Just the word ‘tsunami,’ ” she said. “It brings back awful memories.”

Hurricane Katrina forced the Goodmans from their Long Beach home. They evacuated to Houston and expected to come home in a few days. They lived in Houston for several years and only recently moved back to Biloxi.

She worries about people living along the coastline in Hawaii and what could happen to them. “It’s not always as simple as it sounds,” she said. “Hopefully, it will only be 10 to 12 feet. Hopefully, they won’t have the kind of devastation we had.”

Guimont told Sun Herald today that she receives texts from Brown every half hour to keep her updated. In a text to her this afternoon he said he was on the eighth floor of the hospital and that the waves could last about 10 hours.

“It’s heartbreaking that I can’t protect him,” she said. “You pray to God that things turn out in a positive way. It’s one of those things you can’t control.”

She said Brown is prepared if the tsunami causes more damage than expected. “His mission in life is to help,” she said. “I have no doubt my son will remain there around the clock. He’s there to help care for those in need.”