Former KUAM reporter loses home in Alabama
Guam - It was last week Mother Nature unleashed her fury of tornadoes that traversed across seven states, leaving in its patch close to 350 people dead and several hundreds missing. In the wake of this national disaster, in a little country town of Hamilton, Alabama with an estimated population of just over 6,000 people we find a former colleague a reporter at KUAM from 1993-2003.
Jay Pascua covered many disasters during his time as a reporter in Guam, but now he finds himself on the other end of the microphone. It was three years ago the former Guam journalist packed his bags and moved with his wife Renee and their four children to Hamilton. "We were just getting comfortable settling in," he explained. "We had a house, we had two cars. You know, all that was missing was a white picket fence."
Jay and his family were part of the lucky ones. They survived a tornado that ripped through his small town in Marion County. "I'm looking up at the sky, though I'm seeing lightning I'm seeing dark, dark clouds and I said, 'Man, this doesn't feel right,'" he recalled.
And his reporter instincts were right. He and his children went next door to his sister in law's house for shelter. Jay used his body as a human shield to protect his children, and then suddenly Mother Nature came knocking. "I hear this huge boom, I see the wall implode the window in one of the rooms imploded, the roof gets picking up and in a matter of two seconds it was over. It was that quick," he recalled.
Buried in rubble, they managed to come out alive. But then, he looked next door. He said, "I see it for the first time my house is completely gone. Not a single block not the foundation not the walls, nothing. Gone."
An island boy, Jay has covered and lived through several typhoons and supertyphoons he lived through the 8.1 earthquake that rocked Guam, but this he says beats it all. "I thought I was gonna die, I thought my family was going to die, I thought that was it for us. And that was the toughest part about it. Was knowing that my family could have been gone; I could have been gone," he said.
Jay's wife was at work at the time. But even she was lucky she was delayed by a half hour from coming home. It was a firefighter who was directing traffic who said if she had come sooner. She might not have made it home. "He's saying, 'Where did you come from?', she said I was supposed to come through here about thirty minutes he ago he said, 'Look, had you been here 30 minutes ago you would have ended up in a ditch.' Because a tornado had just passed here 30 minutes ago," he said.
Jay and Renee and their children are now living in a basement at his brother-in-law's mother's home for now, a little worn down by Mother Nature, but not at all defeated. "You know, no matter how rough it gets my family is still here. I'm still here."
Jay wanted us to pass along to his all his family and friends here on Guam that he is doing okay. He also thanks everyone for the support and prayers during this difficult period.