No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

12 March, 2011

The Big One

We no doubt feel our mortality this weekend. The map above shows 238 earthquakes in the last week in our area. Not to mention the massive 8.9 that hit 230km away on Friday afternoon at 2:46 p.m.

Woody and I were home together and James was at work. I had just walked downstairs to check on our sleeping babe. He was in his bouncy chair in the bathroom (I shower anyway I can these days) and I was confused as to how it was bouncing freely while he was sleeping. I quickly realized that the earth below me was moving and I grabbed him out and braced us against the wall. The shaking wasn't violent, but rather was a strong sensation of swaying, like being on a boat. It almost made me seasick to watch the walls as they moved. Woody slept through the whole thing. I, however, was yelling expletives (sorry, son). We shook for 2 minutes before I felt safe to move from the wall. After something like that, its tough to tell if the earth is still moving of if it's just your nerves. Amazingly, nothing fell around our house except for an already precariously placed horn on the wall.

The Seisen buildings, however, are over 60 years old. The earthquake struck about 35 minutes before the end of the school day. James had the girls get under their desks like they have practiced many times.
Once the shaking stopped, the girls grabbed their zukins (the head covering pictured above) and emergency food bags and evacuated to the tennis courts. They waited it out until the building was cleared. Everyone was fine and was able to go home, but due to the halting of the trains and the gridlocked traffic, many students were stuck at school until 8:00. All the cell phone servers went down and it was nearly impossible to get in touch with families. James finally left school at 8:30 p.m., still waiting to hear from one family.

I was meant to have a "meet the baby" shower at 4:00 at a friend's house, but since everyone was stuck at school, no one was able to make it. My friend, Allison, and I sat around with our baby boys watching the coverage of the aftermath on BBC. James, Woody and I walked home at 9:00 after realizing that there was no chance of catching a cab. The streets were lined with people walking home from work. Imagine very crowded train cars, that leave a station every 3 minutes, dumped on the sidewalk. Usually quiet streets were packed with men in black suits and briefcases walking in the opposite direction of the city's core. It was a very unique scene.

The aftershocks came constantly, every 5 minutes or so, until midnight. We've felt about 10 today. They were unnerving at first, but you become accustomed to them after awhile. Now the big scare is Japan's nuclear reactors. The reactors in concern are 260 km north of Tokyo. The media is portraying the worst possible scenarios, but from what we hear, we are in no harm. The winds are pushing to the sea and beyond a 10-20 km radius is supposed to be ensured to be safe. I won't lie, it's still unsettling. But panic won't help me. We are, however, preparing for a blackout tonight. We've been told to expect a 3 hour block with out electricity. We just cooked a bunch of food, filled the bathtub, and poured ourselves a drink to enjoy while watching movies. I think Star Wars is about to be queued up.

We feel great sadness for the people to the north in Sendai and the surrounding regions. Our sense of uneasiness is nothing compared to the grief and aftermath they are grappling to make sense of today.

1 comment:

Wendy Temple said...

I am so glad to hear you guys are safe and weren't harmed! The images on the t.v. are sobering and heart-breaking. Makes me realize how truly fragile life is and how small we all are. Praying for you guys as you are living in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Love and hugs!