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Tsunami impacts Manteca family
Forces evacuation of Morro Bay business
Ashlea Smith, daughter-in-law of Linda Pulliam of Manteca, is pictured at the Morro Bay Beachwear boutique shop that she manages at the Embarcadero shopping center. - photo by Photo courtesy Linda Pulliam
The economic impact of the deadly and devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan have reached the Uecker and Pulliam families of Manteca.

Barbara Smith, her brother Stan Smith Jr. and his wife Ashlea were among those in Southern California who missed a whole day of work Friday when the destructive waves that originated thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean forced the businesses where they worked to close, and they had to be evacuated.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from Morro Bay before the first big wave - estimated by some at nine feet - hit.

The Smith siblings’ mother, Linda Pulliam of Manteca, said she was greatly relieved that they were all safe.

Pulliam has not yet heard of the news about the calamity that hit Japan when she was awakened at 8 a.m. by a call from her son.

“He never calls that early so I was very worried,” said Pulliam, a longtime Manteca resident.

“I said, ‘what’s up, son?’” were the first words from Pulliam.

Smith relayed the terrible news about the earthquakes and the tsunami to his mother, adding that he had already talked to his sister that morning and that she was all right.

“He said, ‘there’s a tsunami in Hawaii and it’s affecting us here because we’re close to the water. They’ve evacuated the Embarcadero where all the shops are because it’s near the water,’” said Pulliam of her telephone conversation with her son.

“I’m worried. I’m very worried because those tsunamis are really crazy. I just wish they’d come back here to Manteca and live here,” she added with a nervous laugh.

Smith and his wife Ashlea, who have been married nearly seven years, have been living in Morro Bay for the last two years. Ashlea is the manager at the Morro Bay Beachwear, a boutique shop in the Embarcadero commerce center owned by her mother. Her husband, who until recently had worked for a recreational boating facility, is currently working at SourDough in nearby San Luis Obispo.

Smith’s sister Barbara lives in Santa Barbara and works at the Harbor View Inn, “which is right on the water, too,” Pulliam said. A graduate of California State University in San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in English, Barbara is holding on to her job until she gets the opportunity to get her foot in the door at CNN to fulfill her goal of working in broadcast journalism.

Both siblings and their sister Rachel, who lives in Manteca and works at Home Depot, along with their mother, are all graduates of Manteca High School.

If the shops at the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, a major tourist attraction in Southern California, remain closed this weekend because of the tsunami, “That’s going to hurt the economy,” said Pulliam who, just last month, visited her children along with her parents, longtime Mantecans Dewey and Reta Uecker.

The tsunami that happened as a result of the deadly 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan on Friday (Japan time) affected 20 other countries including Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico and the United States’ coastal states such as California and Oregon, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.