‘We had another earthquake today. It was 7.4 magnitude. There is shortage of gas, milk and eggs at the moment. I am scared and worried. Pray for Japanese people’. I stared at the words of the email sitting in my inbox. Its contents sank deep. Tears welled up in my eyes as scenes of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plant crisis whiles I was in Japan rushed back in my mind’s eye. I had been evacuated two weeks ago from Japan because of the current crisis. I am barely getting over the traumatic experience.
My Journey to Japan
I relocated to Japan to join my husband serve his orders 3 months prior to the disaster. All was going well and life was getting pretty normal. We had settled down and had deeply fallen in love with the Asian continent, country and culture. Then one day, that fateful Friday the earth shook. The sea roared angrily and rolled speedily destroying buildings, homes and human lives in Sendai. Sendai is in the Miyagi Prefecture located in the north east coastal part of Japan.
March 11, 2011 –Atsugi: I can recall the sounds, smells and sights of March 11, 2011 vividly. It was a bright sunny Atsugi Friday afternoon. Atsugi is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture. It is a calm city with beautiful and polite people. Normal human activities were going on. The streets were busy. The stores stocked and the restaurants full. ‘Thank God it is Friday’ filled the air as many were rushing home to start the weekend.
I was on my way home when all of a sudden I started feeling uneasy walking. I stopped in my tracks but I could not stand well. At first I thought I was feeling dizzy and that I would fall down. I wondered what was happening to me. I turned around. I saw a man running very fast and a group of people standing clinging to themselves. Then I saw the Tower building shaking. I heard screams of neighbours and alarm of packed cars sounded. It was frenzy as many women and children stared, screamed and stuttered. In my state of confusion I asked 'What is happening?’ Earthquake responded one of the men standing in a group. ‘Earthquake?’ I repeated the words feeling scared and sad. ‘Will the earth open? Will the buildings fall?'
Gathering some courage, I moved ahead. On my way to our apartment, I met Ivy a Puerto Rican mother of two living in Japan. Ivy was on her way to pick her two boys from Pre-School. Anxiety and worry was written over her face. ‘I am so scared to death I don’t know what to do. I need to pick my children’said Ivy.
I tried dialling my husband’s number but the lines were blocked. I tried to log on to facebook on my phone; the internet would not work too. I managed to get to our apartment. I tried to use the elevator, the power went off. So there I was-unable to get to my husband, friends and neighbours. At that moment I felt lost, confused, sad and scared.
Later that evening, I watched in terror pictures of the devastating tsunami on TV. Women, men and children stood helplessly. Homes and buildings had been destroyed and many people were being rescued. It was reported that the earthquake was 9.0 magnitude that day.
Aftermath of the earthquake
The disaster claimed the lives of over 25,000. There are also reports of over 15,000 people missing. These figures include women and children who were either reported dead or missing, lost or had lost their home or a family. About 1,962 people have been injured according to the National Police Emergency Disaster unit.
Following the earthquake, there have been series of aftershocks ranging from 5.0-7.0. The earthquakes and tsunami troubled the nuclear plant in Fukushima which is about 160 miles from Tokyo the capital of Japan. Reports of nuclear radiation this week is recorded to have risen from level 5 to 7 which is rated to be the highest globally.
There is also a growing anxiety as many worry about the current situation. There is a rolling blackout in most cities and towns. Some Train Lines are not operating causing many workers to be stranded and leading to huge traffic in town. Coupled with this is shortage of some food items such as milk, eggs and basic amenities. There have also been reports to prices of certain basic amenities shooting up in some parts of Tokyo.
Response to crisis
The Japanese government has evacuated over 200,000 residents from homes close to the plant. The Japanese Prime minister continues to assure citizens to stay calm and united as the country tighten its belts to rebuild the nation. There has also been support from the Red Cross Society, the United States Forces, and Religious groups and are also making effort to support the affected region and families affected by the disaster.
What should be done
There is the need for us to support our sisters and children in Japan. Let’s brainstorm together as a community on how we can practically support our sisters affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant crisis in Japan. Many homes, schools and lives have been destroyed. There is growing anxiety of the current situation and the future of the country.