Skip to main content

tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  April 7, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

8:00 pm
risen against the odds to achieve a level of the american dream. >> these struggles will not be solved in two years or four years. it will take our whole lives, but this is the fight for our lives. this is the fight for our lives. this is the fight of our lives. xxxx everything just began to shake. just kept asking, where is she? have you seen her? i wouldn't know what i'd do without her. >> it looked like the world was ended. >> growing up in indiana. tsunamis and earthquakes are the things you only see in hollywood films. >> he was sure his world had ended. the love of his life was missing. >> that feeling she's not all right became growing as each minute went by. >> strangers in a strange land
8:01 pm
they had fallen in love, and all he knew was her town was gone. >> literally come hell or high water i was getting in that damn town. >> that's where he headed right into that hell to risk his live to try to save hers. >> fire on the hill and fire on the water. >> could he get there in time. >> i never loved someone the way i loved georgia. >> finding georgia. hello. welcome to "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. zach brannam was a recent college graduate when he left his small midwestern town to teach english in japan. it was there he med georgia and they fell in love. soon, they would be torn apart by a devastating disaster as the unimaginable images of whole
8:02 pm
towns wiped out played around the world, a family sat around waiting for news. here's keith morrison. >> who can say what lurks out there past the horizon, waiting impersonably, utterly at random as thousands of lives tick to their unknowing ends. simple coincidence, a young man from middle america made a single decision. >> could you imagine back there in indiana to make your life flip on its head? >> no. never. >> how could he know on the other side of the world a young woman made exactly the same decision, or that they'd meet practically on the eve of one of the biggest natural disasters in recent memory. or how could he know in the middle of disaster he'd lose her. >> i wouldn't know what i would do without her.
8:03 pm
>> so, coincidence, love, disaster. is there no fairness about these things. they just are. zach turned 23 in 2010. i just picked up a degree in history from a college in indiana. no idea what to do next. then, he saw an offer for a job in japan, a two year stint teaching english to elementary school kids. no japanese language skills required. >> why japan of all places? >> i don't think there's any rhyme or reason to it. i think it was just offered to me and i jumped on it. >> the town they sent him to in japan was a long long way from his hometown of nashville. nashville, indiana. on sundays he skyped with his parents jobs john and terry whitfield. john is a musician and terry a school guidance counselor. >> how did he seem to be doing? >> it was rough at first.
8:04 pm
>> uh-huh. >> the language thing was the big thing. >> you were a stranger in a strange land. >> yes. >> was it a lonely feeling? >> hmm. yeah. it was. it was made better by the fact there were other foreign teachers in town. >> along with other teachers there was one person, a volunteer, who helped the volunteers adjust, a local english speaking business person named kenji harijama. kenji, an accomplished guitarist, found jack was, too. >> i was impressed by his songs, and he played guitar really well. >> kenji pulled out an old gibson and handed it to zach. >> he said, consider it yours while you're here. >> zach took that to school to break the ice. >> i would play music for them and that helps break the barrier
8:05 pm
a bit. >> three weeks in, overwhelmed by homesickness he called his parents. he had had enough. >> as embarrassing as it is, i was crying and i said to them, i can't do this anymore, i want to come home. >> and we said, no, you made a commitment. you're a man. you gave your word. >> how hard was it to say that? >> it was really hard. >> i may have probably hung up the phone a bit angry at him because it wasn't the answer i wanted to get but in retrospect, i'm really glad. >> zach tried to make it work. one night when the teachers got together there was someone new. another teacher just returning from a sunny vacation. there was this beautiful tanned georgia coming back from croatia. >> 23-year-old georgia robinson, a recent university graduate herself from new zealand. she had been teaching and living on a nearby town on the coast. in october, they all went to a
8:06 pm
karaoke bar. >> i found out she was a huge fan of kiss. myself loving rock'n roll, that sparked my interest. >> did it seem to be the other way around? >> no, actually, because i didn't hear anything from her after that night. >> no idea. but back in new zealand, george's cousin, kelsey, started hearing about a guy named zach. >> she said he was really outgoing and nice person interested in all the same sort of things. they liked the same music and same movies. >> and then, a few weeks later she called him. here they are practicing with the other teachers for a december dance performance. >> from then on we ended up spending progressively more and more time together. >> it was a happier young man who went home to indiana for christmas. zach introduced his parent to georgia, sort of. >> i met her on skype. bless her heart, she had the
8:07 pm
flu, and had her bathrobe on, not feeling well. what a way to meet us. >> what did you think about this relationship with a girl so far away? >> we weren't putting that much stock in it. >> we were grateful that he had someone to spend time with. >> i was talking to my mom. she was like, you really care for georgia, don't you? i was like, yeah. my mom got a little choked up. what happens if you move to new zealand. i had to assure my mother and say, that's never going to happen, mom. >> come january, zach seemed eager to get back to japan. two months later, friday, march 11th, 2011, the day before his father's birthday. >> i actually spent a lot of the day writing my dad a nice big birthday e-mail. i had hit send on that e-mail and was talking to georgia on g-mail chat, i'll see you after this rehearsal and -- >> boom.
8:08 pm
>> boom. everything just began to shake. i was in an office chair with wheels, and so immediately as it started the chairs began to slide. things began falling off the shelves. >> zach had never been in an earthquake but his co-workers knew this one was big. worried that the building might collapse, they ran downstairs and out to the parking lot. soon, they were told it was okay, it was over. but when the shaking stopped the disaster was just beginning. there was a monster out there over the horizon called fate, and it was coming very fast. almost as soon as zach got back to his desk, warning sirens went off. even zach knew what that meant. if the tsunami was heading to his town of kuji 2 miles inland, what was it going to do on the coast in noda where georgia was.
8:09 pm
coming up, zach knew he had to find her. a world away, zach's parents still had not found him. >> this can't be happening. are you sure it's where zach is? we were looking at maps and everything was pointing to, yes, exactly where zach is. >> we just prayed. >> when finding georgia continues. orgia continues.
8:10 pm
ito take care of anyct messy situations.. and put irritation in its place. and if i can get comfortable keeping this tookus safe and protected... you can get comfortable doing the same with yours. preparation h. get comfortable with it. but allstate actually helps you drive safely... with drivewise. it lets you know when you go too fast... ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost. unfortunately, it can't do anything about that.
8:11 pm
now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? all of you. how you live, what you love. that's what inspired us to create america's most advanced internet.
8:12 pm
internet that puts you in charge. that protects what's important. it handles everything, and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi, this is xfi. simple. easy. awesome. xfinity, the future of awesome. welcome back. minutes after riding out the massive earthquake that rattled northeastern japan, zach realized his nightmare was far from over. the quake triggered a powerful tsunami now headed their way. as zach braced fourchette r cha about georgia, who lived right on the coast? >> friday, march 11th, 2011.
8:13 pm
in nashville, indiana, john and terry had barely had sich their tea when the news volted them awake. >> this is a very powerful earthquake. images are stunning out of japan. an epic earthquake hit northern japan, 9.20. huge some up the coast, like watching a disaster movie, this one horribly real. john and terry's son, zach, was now in the middle of it. >> what did you say? >> unreal. this can't be happening. are you sure it's where zach is? are you sure it's in the same region? we were looking at maps, and everything was pointing to, yes, exactly where zach is. >> we just prayed. >> the enormous waves you see here were hitting noda, kuji, the towns where zach and georgia
8:14 pm
were teaching. the family called but to no avail that. few what happened when you tried his phone? >> it would say all circuits are busy, that you'd get a busy signal. >> and the minutes went by? >> uh-huh. >> then, an hour and two hours. what did that feel like? >> hell. >> as a parent, you never think, oh, my child's been killed. you don't think that. you just wait. you just wait and pray for the best. >> remember, zach had wanted to come home month earlier. but terry and john had encouraged him to stay and live up to his commitment. >> how much did you beat yourself up for that? >> i did. >> it seemed right then. but now? >> it was the helplessness of we're way over here and there's not a thing we can do. >> georgia's family in new zealand including cousin kelsey, were just as scared and just as
8:15 pm
helpless. >> when my friends got a text saying there was massive tsunami in japan, we all freaked out because georgia was over there. >> they turned on the tv and saw images from noda, the coastal town where georgia was based. >> it was unrecognizable from images she had sent to us. the buildings were destroyed. there was debris everywhere. >> georgia, though they tried and tried, was unreachable. >> we really thought that she'd gone, kind of lost hope. >> back in indiana that night, the niews ever worse, john turnd on his computer and read that last e-mail from zach. >> he sent it literally two minutes before the earthquake hit. >> what was it? >> a birthday greeting. >> that said what? >> happy birthday, love you. >> it said much more than that, though. dear's rocking pappy.
8:16 pm
happy birthday. woo-hoo, the big 5-0. the more and more we spend apart the more and more i realize how amazing father and friend you have been over the years and the more i learned how a husband is to treat his husband and wife? >> my god. >> i'm thinking, is this the last thing i hear from my son. >> and it's that. >> saturday morning, more than 24 hours since they'd had any communication from their son. >> by 8:30, we still hadn't heard anything and woke up to even more horrible images and trying not to think about the death tolls and all that. it was compounding and compounding. >> but then, about the moment all seemed lost, another e-mail arrived, not from zach, it was from kenji, that volunteer mentor in japan, just a few words, and they meant everything.
8:17 pm
>> brannon's son survived. basically, that's all it said. >> what was that like? >> of course, we wanted to know more details. >> a relief. >> zach was alive. all they needed to know for now. but georgia, still no word. well, his parents worried about him at home, zach was riding out the chaos in kuji. >> i wasn't really sure what was going on at first. >> after the shaking stopped, zach and his co-workers moved up to the top floor of the kuji city hall, a sort of crow's nest with a view of the whole city and coastline. >> if something is going to happen, this is where you'd see it? >> yeah. >> then, he saw it. something about the rivers that split the city and normally flow out to the sea. >> the river was beginning to flow in the opposite direction. the water began to change color and going from this bluish color
8:18 pm
to very murky. >> even four stories up, zach could hear the roaring river. >> it went from having small debris like trees and other rubbish around the harbor and stuff coming in, to votes and evacuation, much larger and more substantial things coming. >> evacuation and cars? >> yeah. that it picked up along the coast. >> that is getting scary, right? >> yeah. >> of course, zach hasn't seen the footage everybody else outside the country had seen. thousands and cities wiped off the map. >> did your mind turn to what's going on down there where georgia is? >> i hoped she was doing the same thing i was, that she'd be in a safe location. >> a safe location, was there such a thing where georgia was? >> as the water around began to recede and zach and his co-workers came downstairs, he
8:19 pm
realized everybody was incredibly quiet. >> people's expressions changed so drastically to these looks of genuine fear, that's when i thought, you know, i myself was scared. >> now, he understood. if the wave got as far as his town further inland it had to have hit georgia's town, right on the coast. what happened to all those people there and to georgia. suddenly, he knew he had to find this girl, just had to. >> i wanted to see her and i wanted to comfort her as well. >> no idea what would be waiting for you at that end? >> no. not the slightest. >> there's a moment in some lives that defines everything that comes after. a test, a trial. this was zach brannon's test to pass or fail. coming up -- >> i never loved someone the way i loved georgia. >> sometimes love doesn't
8:20 pm
conquer all. >> fires on the hill. fire on the water. it was a complete scene of destruction really. >> when "finding georgia" continues. cont imornings were made for better things than rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. when considering another treatment, ask about xeljanz xr a once-daily pill for adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis or active psoriatic arthritis for whom methotrexate did not work well enough. it can reduce pain, swelling, and significantly improve physical function. xeljanz xr can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened. as have tears in the stomach or intestines, serious allergic reactions, low blood cell counts,
8:21 pm
higher liver tests and cholesterol levels. don't start xeljanz xr if you have an infection. your doctor should perform blood tests before and while taking xeljanz xr, and monitor certain liver tests. tell your doctor if you've been somewhere fungal infections are common and if you have had tb, hepatitis b or c, or are prone to infections. don't let another morning go by without asking your doctor about xeljanz xr you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? flonase sensimist relieves all your worst symptoms, including nasal congestion, which most pills don't. and all from a gentle mist you can barely feel. flonase sensimist. you can barely feel. when it comes to reducing the evsugar in your family's diet,m. coke, dr pepper and pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all. smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels and reminders to think balance.
8:22 pm
because we know mom wants what's best. more beverage choices, smaller portions, less sugar. s... u... v... these letters used to mean something. letters earned in backwoods, high hills and steep dunes. but somewhere along the way, suvs became pretenders not pioneers. but you never forgot the difference and neither did we. there are many suvs, but there's only one legend. legends aren't born, they're made.
8:23 pm
welcome back. he may have been spared by the ferocious tsunami that slammed into the northeastern coast of japan but zach brannon could not rest. his girlfriend, georgia, lived by the sea, in the direct path of the catastrophic waves. his only path was to find her. in the chaos, how could he even start looking? once again, keith morrison. >> zach brannon didn't fully comprehend how bad it was. the tremendous earthquake and deadly wall of water that followed it was snuffing out more than 18,000 lives. tens of thousands of homes, whole towns were being swept away.
8:24 pm
but zach didn't know that yet. >> i just wanted to find georgia, my best friend, and also, i wanted to make sure she was all right. >> zach kept telling himself she was all right. noda, the small town on the coast where georgia lived was protected by massive concrete seawalls, barriers. >> your first thought wasn't, oh, god, she's in trouble, it was more, thank god there's a wall? >> yes. it's there. no possible way it could have gotten over that. >> how did you find out you were wrong? >> i decided -- i just left, i left work. >> back in indiana, zach's parents, relieved their son was alive, got another e-mail. zock was going to look for georgia. >> now, a whole new set of concerns, like, i wasn't even exactly sure where she was. once we figured that out and looked it up on the map, it wasn't far away, but -- >> it was even closer to the
8:25 pm
coast. >> it was closer to the coast. >> wondering what he might find over there by himself, and what would he do if he didn't find her. it was all those things. >> zach hopped in his car and began the 8 mile drive down the winding road from kuji to noda. >> as i come down the hill, i start noticing people are walking on the side of the road, no cars, but they're just walking, whole families walking, and i am just saying to myself, that's odd. that's strange. as i got closer, i could see what looked like to be a house on its side, just in the middle of the road. i was really confused because where were the tsunami walls? >> police had set up a barricade. and beyond it -- >> what did you see over there?
8:26 pm
>> it was just complete, complete destruction, you know. there had been, like for a lot of the houses, they're heated with kerosene. kerosene tanks had been knocked down throughout the tsunami and because of the downed power lines, sparked fires. fire on the hill and fire on the water. >> debris everywhere. >> yeah. it was a complete scene of destruction, really. >> zach almost in shock, walked toward the barricade blocking the road. >> there was a police officer, and he just said to me, dangerous, no, and began trying to escort me back towards where i had parked my car. >> so, zach got in his car and drove back to kuji, trying to tell himself it would be okay, georgia was fine. the scene behind the barricade was chaos, disaster. it was obvious there were many casualties and how many was
8:27 pm
impossible to know. zach understood when he was turned away by the guard, one person's anxiety could not be allowed to trump public safety. at that very moment he understood with absolute clarity, he had to find out what happened to the girl behind the barricade, he had to, if she was alive or dead or injured, had to, because she was the love of his life. he sent message after message by text. >> in vain, you know, knowing that they weren't going through, but just hoping. little messages of encouragement, i love you, i hope everything is all right. i will come look for you. i tried, know, i'm coming. >> what were you thinking? >> i wouldn't -- i wouldn't know what i would do without her. >> i guess that's the first time you had to confront it in a
8:28 pm
serious way, right? >> yeah. i had never loved someone the way i loved georgia. and so i guess i just hoped she was going to be all -- you know, she was going to be fine. >> you probably didn't sleep much that night? >> no. no. the aftershocks went on all night, so did tsunami warnings. >> we're thinking, is there going to be another tsunami coming through? you know, i didn't technically
8:29 pm
sleep. >> by 5:30 a.m., he knew what he had to do. he left a note on his apartment door just in case georgia made it there. >> i said, georgia, i'm coming to look for you. if for some reason you make it into kuji, stay here. if i haven't found you by sundown, i will come back here. know i'm coming back. >> then, he got in his car again and headed towards the coast. >> i just decided, literally hell or high water i was getting into that damn town. >> but how? he'd certainly be facing hell and high water. perhaps the biggest problem was the japanese army blocking the road. >> was time running out for georgia? had zach lost the love of his life. coming up -- >> that feeling i had been trying to suppress, that feeling of she's not all right, it began growing in size immensely as
8:30 pm
each minute went by. >> when "finding georgia" continues. ♪ goin' down the only road i've ever known ♪ ♪ like a drifter i was-- ♪ born to walk alone! keep goin' man! you got it! if you ride, you get it. ♪ here i go again geico motorcycle. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? flonase sensimist relieves all your worst symptoms, including nasal congestion, which most pills don't. and all from a gentle mist you can barely feel. flonase sensimist. you can barely feel. so let's promote our spring ftravel deals, on like this: (sneezes) earn one free night when you stay just twice this spring. allergies. or.. badda book. badda boom.
8:31 pm
book now at i got it! what? what? l.a. bookers book apartments and vacation homes as easy as hotels. ridin' scooter! l.a. baby! l.a. baby! be a booker you're welcome. at you're welcome. onmillionth order.r. ♪ there goes our first big order. ♪ 44, 45, 46... how many of these did they order? ooh, that's hot. ♪ you know, we could sell these. nah. ♪ we don't bake. ♪ opportunity. what we deliver by delivering.
8:32 pm
8:33 pm
i'm dara brown with the top stories. kirstjen nielsen is leaving her job as homeland security secretary over president trump's frustrations of efforts to seal the southern border. and the possible motive behind a series of church burnings. three historically black churches have been set on fire in south louisiana in just 10 days and officials say they were officially set. back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. zach brannon was on a mission to find the love of his life. the coastal town she lived had
8:34 pm
taken a massive hit from the tsunami of northeastern japan. when zach arrived he was faced by army barricades. zach's search for georgia was about to take a chilling turn. here is keith morrison. >> as the sun rose over the ruined coastal towns of northern japan, zach approached the barricades of georgia's town, noda, determined to get past it, no idea how. >> i parked a little past it this time and still walking in. they still had the police officers and the defense force there with their roadblock. but i noticed what looked like to be a group of locals with shovels and other gear, i'm assuming to go in and start clearing paths to the found. i thought, that's my way in. >> those civilian volunteers seemed to have official permission to get in and clearly
8:35 pm
knew where they were going. >> so, i just pulled my hood up and hopped in line with them. at that point no one was really kind of looking around. >> he went past the police line, followed the group up a path away from the main road. he knew where he'd go first if he could. >> your first destination was her apartment? >> yeah. hoping i would find her sitting on the floor reading a book. >> the path led up a hill past this shry iine. and this horrific scene and noda was almost unrecognizable. >> there was debris, boats, anything you could imagine, metals, electricalables, and beds like -- >> but he knew georgia's place was on a hill. if she had gone there before the tsunami hit she would be all
8:36 pm
right. when he got there. >> no sign she was still there. everything was still left from the way we had left it from the previous morning when we both went to work. >> as he went back outside, zach could see down the center of town, where georgia's office was, where she was when the earthquake hit. what he saw chilled him to the bone. >> what i could see of the central part of the village so destroyed, in my mind, i could not see how -- >> nobody survived in that city building. >> yeah. >> shaking that from his mind, zach thought georgia might have gone to help out at one of the three schools where she taught. when he got to the kindergarten, his heart sank. >> the kindergarten was completely gone. >> wiped away? >> yeah. all that was left was a bit of the fence and foundation. >> a kindergarten that would have been occupied? >> i had hoped not.
8:37 pm
>> later, he found out those children were safe, evacuated before the tsunami hit. but now zach went to another school, found a group of teachers huddled in their office. unable to speak japanese, he passed around georgia's business cards with her photo. >> i went in and asking georgia sensai, where is she? have you seen her? >> they had not. but they did give zach some hope. they said ju bako, go, junior high. i take that as, oh, she's at the junior high. >> zach sprinted there, made his way to the teachers' room. >> i asked them, have you seen georgia and they said they hadn't, had not seen her. and i kind of lost it at that point. >> zach staggered outside, out of options, his despair now
8:38 pm
total. >> what was happening in your mind? >> just -- just feeling so lost, that feeling i had been trying to suppress, the feeling of she's not all right. it began growing in size immensely as each minute went by. >> one of the teachers came outside to comfort him with a cup of tea. telling me, it's okay. it's okay. hug meg and patting me on the back because i'm crying. >> then, out of nowhere, a van pulled up, two men hopped out, zach recognized one as a colleague of georgia's. they didn't look happy. zach tried to ask them. >> georgia, you know, where is she? where is she? they didn't say, because they spoke no english and i spoke no japanese, just pretty much,
8:39 pm
like, let's go, pointing to the van and pushing me into the van, you know. >> they were taking him to city hall. >> as you were being driven in that van. >> yeah. >> did you have any idea what they were driving you to see? >> no. >> did you know they had been taking bodies to the city at all? >> no, i -- >> didn't know that. >> city hall had in fact become the temporary morgue. was that where he would find georgia. coming up, the news everyone had been waiting for. >> he was very proud of what he did. >> when "finding georgia" continues. ng georgia" continues. this is the story of john smith.
8:40 pm
not this john smith. or this john smith. or any of the other hundreds of john smiths that are humana medicare advantage members. no, it's this john smith. who we paired with a humana team member to help address his own specific health needs. at humana, we take a personal approach to your health, to provide care that's just as unique as you are. no matter what your name is. ♪
8:41 pm
no matter what your name is. hey, who are you? oh, hey jeff, i'm a car thief... what?! i'm here to steal your car because, well, that's my job. what? what?? what?! (laughing) what?? what?! what?! [crash] what?! haha, it happens. and if you've got cut-rate car insurance, paying for this could feel like getting robbed twice. so get allstate... and be better protected from mayhem... like me. ♪
8:42 pm
verizon got us vip tickets three feet away from justin timberlake. and to say vip is an understatement, because i sawww justin timberlake. so he literally looked into the phone and started dancing-- well, he was already dancing-- locked eyes and continued dancing. i still have to like pinch myself and make sure i'm not dreaming. every now and then, i'm like, "wait, did that happen?" (gasps) i've got photos of it, it must have. (vo) get more music on us with vip tickets to the best shows, like shawn mendes and camila cabello. plus, save big when you switch. only on verizon. two men had pushed zach brannon into the back of a van now picking its way through
8:43 pm
canyons of urban rubble, apparentlily towards the noda city hall. had zach known the place had been turned into a temporary morgue he'd have understood the meaning of the looks on their faces. the van stopped, the men got out. >> they said, don't get out, motioning for me to stay in the van. that was it. >> he steeled himself for whatever was coming next. what he did not expect was what he saw. >> around the corner walked out georgia. >> and i saw this baseball cap over by a car, and there he was, the last person in the world i expected to see trudging across the mud in his gum boots, there was zach. >> how was that? >> it was a pretty awesome moment. after the absolute insanity of
8:44 pm
the last 24 hours it was amazing to see him there. >> hair a little frantic, like she had no sleep like the rest of us. >> big hug, of course. >> she tried and i cried. one of the best hugs ever, you know, knowing that she was safe. >> imagine that somebody will go through the barricades, do whatever is needed to get to you. >> i just couldn't understand how zach had arrived with his baseball cap in the middle of all this. it was insane. >> well, that's the way to a girl's heart. >> yeah. yeah. >> and georgia's story, well, substantive zach had been ringside, georgia was center stage. although she had been through
8:45 pm
earthquakes before in new zealand, this one was much much different. >> that's the first time i found it hard to walk or stand in an earthquake. >> still, everyone around her seemed okay. she thought it was all just kind of exciting. even when the tsunami siren went off. >> it was like, oh, cool, this is really exciting. >> but others knew better and georgia soon learned this was very very bad. >> they said, you need to go upstairs. i followed everyone, we went upstairs, looked out the window and noda was gone. >> oh, my gosh. >> this is what georgia saw captured on her cell phone camera, much of the town of noda flowing by the window. >> you were standing right here, looking out there. >> this exact spot, yep. >> it's quite awesome. half the town is up there. >> yep. >> there's a roof here. >> there's actually a house
8:46 pm
under the entrance, almost broken in half. >> unbelievable. there's another house drifted across the road. >> this house is not usually there. that's in the middle of the car park. >> just phenomenal. wow. >> she felt safe up here, somehow detached from the horror she was witnessing. then it hit her. >> there was this moment it was absolutely silent. you could hear a dog barking off in the distance and occasionally there'd be a shout. other than that, it was so surreal, so silent. >> wow. >> yeah. i won't forget that moment. >> water and debris piled up almost to the second floor. no one could leave. >> what was that like? >> that was the worst night of my life. >> a sleepless night, huddled in
8:47 pm
her boss' office, missing zach, thinking he was okay for their inland and the next morning a jolting aftershock and more tsunami sirens. then, zach found her and together the took a look at what was left of the town. 38 people lost their lives in noda, a tiny percentage of the 18,000 who died up and down the coast. half of noda was simply gone. i was like someone had just driven a bulldozer through and it was all gone. how a wave can do that, i don't know. >> lifting complete houses up off their foundation, so all that was left was the shell. >> the front stairs leading up to nothing. >> then, they went to the safest place they could think of, their mentor, kenji's office, in kuji,
8:48 pm
where the other teachers had gathered. >> kenji being kenji found all the food in his house anything we could eat included lots of beer and sake on hand. >> and music. zach and kensy got out the guitars and tried to shut out the world. >> to kind of give ourselves some sense that everything was all right, you know. >> then, cell phones chirped back to life. >> everyone frantically had their phones out, sending e-mails to our families to tell them we're okay. >> back in indiana, zach's parents finally got the news they had been praying for. >> it took me hours and hours but i found her and she's alive. so the first thing i did was call brenda, georgia's mom. she was in bed, she wasn't asleep. she was trying to sleep. i said, zach found her.
8:49 pm
she's alive. she just screamed and started crying. >> mom came in and told me that zach had found her and that she was safe and she was alive, and it was the most amazing feeling i've ever experienced. he was very brave for what he did. very brave. but you do that for people that you love. >> the danger wasn't over, of course. we all know what came next. >> so you find out that he's okay, she is okay, now what? i mean -- >> fukushima. coming up, a different kind of aftershock. >> he said, have you checked your e-mail yet? i said, no. he said, why don't you guys look at your e-mail together. i said, oh, zach, what now? >> when "finding georgia" continues. rgia" continues.
8:50 pm
bookers book now and ask their boss later..
8:51 pm
[do you want breakfast or no?] [definitely breakfast.] be a booker at so let's promote our spring ftravel deals, on like this: (sneezes) earn one free night when you stay just twice this spring. allergies. or.. badda book. badda boom. book now at (burke) at fso we know how ton almost evercover almost anything. even rooftop parking. strange forces at work? only if you're referring to gravity-and we covered it. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
8:52 pm
8:53 pm
welcome back. in the aftermath of japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, zach branham ran into the chaos to find his girlfriend, georgia robinson. she was alive, but the couple was not out of danger yet, and fate, which had brought the young couple together, had one more surprise in store. here with the conclusion of our story is keith morris. >> the fukushima nuclear disaster. >> rescue efforts have been complicated by damage to a nucle nuclear power plant. >> it filled the airwaves. potential meltdown, nuclear armageddon. the president was calling for americans to get out. >> yesterday we called for an evacuation of american citizens who are within 50 miles of the plant. >> we were seeing on the news that it's melting down. it's just a matter of time. they can't stop it. >> and it could infect the entire country, the entire region of the earth.
8:54 pm
>> right. >> zach had thought the worst was over. >> you never think you would experience a tsunami or earthquake, and now you're experiencing a meltdown of a nuclear power plant. >> but we wanted him to come home. he wanted him. >> yeah. >> here we were the ones saying you have to stay, you made a commitment. >> now it's time for you to come home. >> but there was no travel, of course, anywhere. >> then zach got a call from a u.s. air force officer. >> he said we'll take you to the air force base and we'll fly you to safe location. >> so what did you say? >> i said i actually lied and said georgia was my fiancee, my fiancee is a new zealand citizen. >> can i bring her along? >> i'm really sorry. we can only offer this to u.s. citizens at this stage. and i can't leave her behind.
8:55 pm
>> zach and georgia were 200 miles north of fukushima. and as the days passed, they began to feel the danger from the radiation where they were was subsiding. so they stayed, even helped with the cleanup. and then about a month later, funny how these things go, zach and georgia got another shock. another one of those life-changing developments. zach told his parents about it during one of their regular sunday phone calls. >> and he said have you checked your email yet? and i said no. he said why don't you guys look at your email together. i said oh, zach, what now. >> after all the worry and dread they experienced over their son's time in japan, zack brannon's parents weren't quite prepared for the next bit of news. >> so we open the email and there is an ultrasound picture. >> a baby was on the way. >> we were literally speechless.
8:56 pm
one of the few times in my life i've been speechless. >> so we nicknamed it baby bean because it looked like a little bean. >> it just -- it felt right, in a way. we were obviously -- are obviously in love, and the timing wasn't amazing, but it had happened. so let's just go with it. >> still, there was one last step. zach hadn't been quite ready to take it before, but when he came home to indiana to see his family -- >> while i was in indiana in june, my mom and my sisters went with me, and we went engagement ring shopping. >> did he intend to do that? would he have done that without a little push, do you think? >> i don't know. >> i know that i said would you marry her if she wasn't expecting a baby, and he said
8:57 pm
yes. and i said then she needs to know that. she needs you to ask her to marry you and not be expected and i'm doing the right thing. yeah, maybe i did push him. >> when zach went back to japan, he was ready, or so he thought. georgia met him at the train station. >> as we're walking to the car, i -- i don't know. you just have to stop. >> and i was what you doing? it's freezing. let's get in the car. let's go. just wait. and all of the sudden, he turned around and he is shaking, but he is holding a ring box. >> and i got down on my knee and i said i love you and i want to spend the rest of my life with you. i don't care if it's in japan or in new zealand or if we're in siberia. i want to spend the rest of my life with you, and will you marry me. >> and i said yes, of course. i had to put him out of his
8:58 pm
misery. he looked like he was going to collapse. >> so i was engaged, and we didn't really know what we were going to do from there or where we were going to go, but we knew we were having a baby and we were going to get marry. >> in fact, you got married twice. >> yeah, we did. yeah. >> yes. two weddings. the first in indiana. the second one in new zealand. and there was a special guest at that one, 2-month-old sebastian. >> throw that one. >> yeah, getting some good distance. >> after promising his mother it was never going to happen, sure enough, zach and his family now live in new zealand. he works for the government. georgia at a recruitment agency, and sebastian is busy growing up. in 2014, we brought them back to japan for the first time since it all happened. >> my name is georgia. >> georgia! georgia! >> this teacher and her students
8:59 pm
knew about georgia and zach. many here looked upon their story as one positive thing that came out of that horrible tragedy. do you ever -- and this is a totally unfair question -- do you ever sometimes sit together at night and boy, if it hadn't been that are that day, would we be here? would we have sebastian? we would be in this life together? >> all the time. >> if someone would have told me three years from now you will be living in wellington. >> married to an american. >> married to a kiwi with a 2-year-old son. >> i would have said you're crazy. >> i would have thought they were crazy, you know. i could have never imagined this. >> helped along by an earthquake, a tsunami, god knows what else. >> yeah, yeah. >> that's all for this edition
9:00 pm
of "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons into a world of chaos and danger. now the scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." >> if personal relationships can get complicated on the outside, they can be even more complicated behind bars. >> my mom gave me the best advice. everything that has happened in my life, she told me that was going to happen. >> are you having a relationship with gay men or straight men here? >> straight. >> and for those unable to cope with them, relationships can lead to a life in prison


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on