First of all, thankfully I’m fine here, as is everyone I know around me. I’ve been lucky to live in one of the less-affected areas and my experiences have been much lighter than what is going on in the North, yet no-one knows what the future will bring. To share my story, here’s what happened on Friday…
No sooner had I started sorting through my many photos from a wonderful day at the ume festival at Kaira-koen in Mito, then my ‘mansion’ (concrete-based apartment) started violently shaking back and forth. Recalling a voice in my dream that morning reminding me to stay calm but alert, I quickly saved what I was doing and turned off the computer and hard drive. I’d experienced many Earthquakes in my time in Japan, but nothing this strong. The building I am in is pretty solid, so I decided it beat to stay inside it and I frantically secured some of my things that looked like they could fall over, while what seemed to be my mobile rang, though I was unable to answer it (I later found out it was Yuko calling my home phone, though in the confusion I forgot I even have one, I use it so rarely these days).
In the living room, I turned on the telly and saw an emergency broadcast, showing a map of Japan and red, orange or yellow lines around the coastline to show the severity of Tsunami warnings.There are so many earthquakes here that even though this was bigger than normal, it was only then that I realised something more serious was afoot. Like something out of a very well-made disaster movie, images came on of a tremendous waves approaching the coast, washing over farmland as if it was a sandy beach.Reaching down for my iPhone, i realised there was no reception- whether the transmitters had fallen down or the network was overwhelmed, I still don’t know. Thankfully, my internet was working fine and I was able to email Yuko and get back to messages from friends and family. We set up a plan to Skype and after I’d gone around checking for damage, which was thankfully non-existant, aside from a chip in my sink where something heavy fell on it, we were able to see each other and check everything is okay. Then, later a call came through from my mum and then my dad and I was able to reassure them, in person, not to mention all the messages being exchanged on Facebook, which had I only had phone access would have been impossible and kept them worrying, as even though I am far from the epicenter or Tsunami, only by hearing from me could they know everything is okay for sure.
Watching reports come in, what first looked like just large waves proved to be bringers of colossal damage. Cars were being tossed around like toys, people were waiting atop buildings for rescue. In some terrible scenes you could see the driver sitting there in their car, just hoping it would land up somewhere dry enough to get out. Seeing such means of convenience and comfort pushed to their limit was heartbreaking and I can only hope the people I saw there are okay. The after-effects are far from over, with new after-shocks and Tsunamis possible at any time, not to mention the dangers of radioactive leakage from power plants whose cooling systems lack the power to function effectively, even as I speak there is a reactor core in the process of melting in Fukushima. Fortunately, the people are great, helping one another and doing what is needed without complaint.Even around here, I have to admire the people carrying on doing their jobs with so much consideration; convenie staff making sure there’s food, train workers making sure people are safe. Seeing the news the scale of this disaster is wider than anything I could have imagined. We just have to hope and pray for everyone caught up in the path of this.