The nuclear crisis in Japan has led many to flee the country, and Vancouver International Airport was full of arrivals with stories of a quiet panic spreading across the country.

Vancouver resident Yuri Wong flew to Tokyo to bring her frail 85-year-old mother home to Canada.

"It's so scary -- too scary. They haven't found so much nuclear [radiation] in the Tokyo area but it's coming," she said.

Her mother Kiyoko Ushijima survived the Second World War in Japan, but says this is much worse.

"This time is more scary in one way because of the nuclear thing," she said in Japanese as her daughter translated.

"In her 85 years of her life, this time is the worst time she has ever experienced," Wong said, adding that she might not let her elderly mother return.

"She just doesn't know what's going to happen. She does have major concerns about how the country is going to rebuild."

The airport was full of similar stories Friday. Many residents of Japan have families in B.C., and plan to stay with them to avoid the nuclear uncertainty on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Vancouver-born Richard Mosdell got a call on Thursday from a friend at the Canadian Embassy in Japan who told him to take his family and leave the country.

"We packed in an hour," he said.

He doesn't believe he's getting the full story from Japanese authorities. "The Japanese government is lying, and I think that's triggering some people to say, ‘No, we should go -- they're not telling all the truth."

Mosdell says people are now hoarding food and other supplies.

"Every day, you'd go to the grocery store and there's no rice, no milk, no bread. The gasoline stands -- all the gas is gone," he said.

Reiko Kageyama said she felt bad returning early from a trip to Japan and leaving so many in need behind.

"We felt that if we stayed there, we would be in trouble too, and we would be a burden on the Japanese government," she said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Norma Reid