I’ve decided to put up my Alphabe-Thursday post early this week. I had thought about skipping this week because of everything going on around me right now but I need the mental release and I felt that writing about it will help me process everything that is going on in my head…
This is going to be a long one to read…sorry…
Last week was suppose to be a wonderful week.
We celebrated E’s 2nd birthday on the 4th. Plus my exhibition kicked off to a great start and although I was busy with family most of the week, I was really looking forward to celebrating with my friends at the reception party last Friday. I even cooked a Turkish feast for the reception that Friday morning.
But the reception never happened….
Because at 2:46pm, Japan was hit with one of the worst earthquakes ever in recorded Japanese history.
We live in Tokyo so the damage was not as severe but the fear and the worry can be felt everywhere we went. We were “safe” but at the same time everyone had emergency packs waiting by the door in the case that the worst was not over.
Friday evening, the streets and stores were at the most crowded I have ever seen it. Commuters were stranded in Central Tokyo as all train lines, roads and any form of transportation were shut down for damage inspections. People were left sleeping in emergency shelters or in their offices until trains were up again late Friday night/early Saturday morning.
The markets, convenient stores and many fast food restaurants were crowded with people who were trying to stock up on food and supplies. By early Saturday morning, many shelves were stripped bare and restaurants were closed because of the shortages of food supplies.
Even now, we are experiencing a shortage of food and with the possibility of rolling blackouts, there are also concerns for fresh drinkable water.
But that is only what was happening in Tokyo. We at least have electricity and running water.
People living in the northern coastal areas of Japan were hit hardest with additional destruction caused by the following tsunamis. It was a horrific sight to see on tv and in the newspapers.
The northern cities of Sendai and Minami Senriku are practically obliterated by the tsunami waves and the neighboring prefectures are also quite damaged and without water, gas or electricity. Many lives were lost and the body count is still rising with each passing day. It seems that every morning, they find more and more dead bodies than survivors.
Those lucky to have escaped have essentially lost everything, their entire lives washed away in front of their eyes. It’s completely heartbreaking to watch survivors on tv talk about losing everything and then having to try to survive in the cold shelters with barely enough water or food.
To add insult to the injury that we’ve already sustained, there is trouble brewing at the nuclear power plants located near the major damage zones. Because of the earthquake, the cooling system for several of the reactors was damaged and is at risk of a meltdown, possibly releasing a lot of deadly radioactive materials into the air. There is a lot of fear that there will be a nuclear disaster similar to the one in Chernobyl in the 80’s.
It seems that everyday that passes us by, the nuclear situation seems to be getting worse and more unsteady. Radiation has been detected in some areas. Minimal radiation but radiation nonetheless. A lot of people are anxious about what would happen if they cannot fix the situation fast enough. Over 20km of homes in the area were evacuated for safety. Many friends and colleagues of mine have fled Tokyo and some even Japan for places that are safe from the nuclear plants.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared about the situation we’re in.
Being a California native, earthquakes are no stranger to me but I have never in my life experienced something as terrifying as this. Even the Northridge quake of ’94 seems like nothing compared to the fear that we are all feeling in Japan right now.
In fact, the thought of leaving Japan or at least Tokyo has crossed my mind several times but I can’t leave without Jason. He still has to go to work since he works in finance and the market doesn’t close just because people are scared and panicking. Plus, we have so many friends here who are in the same boat as us but they are also staying around. So that means that we’re going to stick it out here until they tell us we need to evacuate.
We are still feeling aftershocks now, days after Friday’s major earthquake. Every single time I feel the ground shake, I get scared that it will be another big one. I don’t even want to imagine the devastation that will occur if Tokyo was hit with another major quake.
Even E can feel the tension in the air. Every time we get hit with a strong aftershock, she crawls onto my lap and starts to cry. It’s so hard trying to comfort her and tell her that everything will be alright when I’m not fully convinced of it myself.
When China, Chile, Indonesia and New Zealand all got hit by a big earthquake/tsunami that resulted in mass destruction and deaths, my heart went out to them and I wanted to help them as much as possible even if it was mainly monetary aid. The feeling is different this time since I feel like it is my own country, my home that is going through all the suffering and I am unsure of what I can do to help.
I am just left waiting and hoping that things will not get any worse than it already is….and that’s the hardest thing to do. Not knowing what to do and just waiting for the government to tell us how to act is driving me up the wall.
It just breaks my heart to see how bad things are in Northern Japan. Every time I turn on the tv and more bad news is being reported, I just want to start crying. Even when things finally calm down once again, the damages that have been done are so devastating that it will take Japan a long time to heal. Not to mention the fear that we’ve all experienced this week will not subside that quickly. How do we wrap our minds around this situation and then just continue going about our lives normally?
When 9/11 happened, I was still in college and it was a horrible event to have been alive to witness (on tv for me). Still, the events of 9/11 didn’t set in fears as strongly as this earthquake has. Maybe it’s because I felt the impact of the disaster directly this time and I’m still experiencing it everyday with the aftershocks and the stuff with the nuclear plants. Either way, I truly hope that we don’t have to experience a disaster of this caliber again in our lifetime. Once is enough for me.
Please keep Japan in your prayers….and if you want to help, you can donate to the Red Cross online or text REDCROSS at 90999 which donates $10 to help those in need. There is also a list of other organizations as well as ways you can help the victims of the earthquake.
By the way, I’ve seen some mean remarks made about how this is Divine punishment for the Japanese for either a) Pearl Harbor or b) the whole Whaling thing (comment made by the captain of Sea Shepherd himself). As much as it angers me that they can say such hateful things, they are not worth the time and energy. Never in a million years would I want to wish for something like this to happen to my enemies. Saying such things just means that these people are heartless and cruel and that one day they will get their Divine punishment.
As for me, I’ll be on and off this week, updating friends and family of the situation here in Tokyo. I’m trying not to use my computer too much since we have been asked to conserve electricity until things improve. I’ll try my best to visit people on other blogs because I really need the distraction but at the same time, my heart just isn’t in it at this time. So I apologize for slacking. When things get calmer, I will come back and catch up with everyone.
If the situation gets any worse with the nuclear plants, we might have to up and flee the danger until further notice. Let’s just hope that a nuclear meltdown does not happen…