Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake update: Day Four

Tohoku EarthquakeIt's now over 80 hours since the earthquake struck at 2:46 PM Friday afternoon local time, with the tsunami starting to hit about 30 minutes after that. Thank you to everyone who has left comments or got in touch. I really appreciate all your good thoughts and wishes, and I thought I'd share with you some of how things are for us in Tokyo after the weekend.

As I mentioned in my previous Earthquake Update post, we had a pretty scary shake but didn't suffer much actual damage in our area. It seems that it was actually a little less severe here even than it was in central Tokyo. However, it has still been somewhat of a roller-coaster of emotions. For the first 2 days I was so on edge, something I didn't realise fully how much until my whole body began aching from holding in so much tension. However, the last couple of days have been much calmer. We're both still glued to our laptops and Twitter, wanting to stay up on any developments, but we've also left the TV off for good portions of the day. Our thoughts are of course with everyone in the affected areas but it's been good for our mental health to not watch those devastating images over and over.

There's still the concern of a possible big aftershock. They said yesterday there was a 70% chance of a 7+ aftershock within 3 days, but that has now been lowered to a 40% chance. The main issue is the ongoing worry about the situation at the nuclear plants. Where we are in the Western suburbs of Tokyo, we're about 240 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) Nuclear Plant. There are lots of opinions from one extreme to the other, so it's hard to know which is right. We're just hoping that it doesn't end up being something terrible.

Japan Earthquake

A little closer to home, our daily life has started to be affected by the shortage of both power and supplies of food and other essentials. Due to the nuclear plant issues, and the fact that several plants are still essentially turned off despite the cooling problems, the usual demand for electricity in the Tokyo and Kanto area outstrips the current supply. So they have laid out a plan for rolling blackouts to help limit usage. They are closely monitoring the power and blackouts will be implemented when and as needed. Today, because of the voluntary effort by individuals and companies to conserve power, as well as the low number of trains running, they only needed to go ahead with the blackout in one of the five areas. (Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, Saitama, Yamanashi, and other surrounding prefectures of Kanto are included). We've been warned of more possible outages tomorrow though as more of Tokyo gets back to work. And they say that these rolling blackouts may continue for several weeks.

Tohoku Earthquake
No bread here!
Although Tokyo didn't really experience much damage structurally, because of the ongoing power problem, people were encouraged to stay home today, but many did return to work this morning. H did try to go to work this morning too. It is very much the Japanese way to just get on with life, and I can totally relate to wanting things to return to normal. However, one of the two trains he needs to take to work wasn't running so he worked from home instead. Many of the train lines throughout the Tokyo area were on very limited schedules today or not running at all. However, it seems that many more of them will be returning to their schedules for tomorrow, at least in central Tokyo. According to the announcements tonight, the train lines around us will still not be running tomorrow. We do live in the very Western boonies of Tokyo, so these are more minor lines. H's boss already said to try and come in if the trains are running, but if not, to just work from home again. No trains means I probably will need to cancel my lessons too.

Tohoku Earthquake
No packaged fish or meat at all!
As for food and other goods, the shops are running out of many items. Due to hoarding to some extent but also because the usual procurement logistics seem to have broken down so new deliveries seemingly haven't yet made it to the shops. Yesterday we went to our big local supermarket and several sections of the store were stripped bare. There was no bread, almost no milk, absolutely no fresh meat or fish, very few fresh vegetables, no instant noodles, no canned tuna, among others. Toilet paper was also apparently a hot commodity, and therefore almost gone. We've got a fairly good stock of basics, bottled water and other drinks so we won't starve by any means but meals are going to get pretty boring pretty soon without fresh produce. Still, all these things considered we really can't complain as we've got it pretty good compared to those in the north in evacuation centres still waiting on food and other aid. Not to mention mourning the loss of family and friends.

While life in the capital is slowly beginning to return to normal, the effects of the disaster will surely be felt for a long time to come. If you'd like to, here are some suggestions of how you can help.



Image sources:
Japanese Newspapers: Ted's Coffeehouse 2
Map: BBC News
Supermarket shelves: Yours truly, taken on Sunday afternoon


25 comments:

  1. Thanks so much Nat for letting us know how things are going in Japan. We had a Japanese exchange student live with us for 10 months a few years ago, but through the wonder of Facebook I was able to find out that like you she is doing ok. Thank Goodness.
    Stephanie
    www.stephanieswrittenword.com

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  2. Hi Tanabata,

    Wishing you, your family, and everyone else in Japan well. Thanks for taking the time to post your personal updates. Stay safe.

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  3. Know that many are praying for your safety.

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  4. I'm glad to hear you are a ok although things are still very raw. I just watched a video of one of the sky scrapers movers - it is both very horrifying and scarily unreal! I just cannot believe it - i have to say if it was in the UK the people would have crumbled as they have no sense of organisation what so ever!

    Look forward to more updates and hearing that things are getting better (i hope)

    Keep safe, take care.

    x

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  5. I have to admit, I had to stop paying attention to the news for mental health myself, and I don't even live there. The guy is a news watcher, so he has been watching fairly consistently. I had to go to another part of the house a few times just to get away from it all... It doesn't help that the news repeats itself until it is live again. Drives me nuts!

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  6. Thanks for letting us know, Nat. I'm following you on Twitter so I got most of the info already but it is still good to read it all in one story.

    I do hope things will improve soon again (shortage and power problems). I think the Japanese have such a good way to deal with difficult situations, I do admire them for that.

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  7. So glad you are okay! Best wishes to you and all of Japan.

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  8. Those empty shelves look almost surreal. On the one hand you're right to feel blessed, considering how much worse it could have been. But on the other hand, I can barely imagine the stress you have been under! I hope the return to normally will help somewhat. Hugs to you and H.

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  9. Nat, thanks so much for telling us how things are going on in Japan. What happened was awful and scary, and my heart goes out to the people who had lost their loved ones. Stay safe.

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  10. Thank you so much for posting and letting us know how you are doing. It's been a terrible weekend, and even over here in Canada we are all talking about the nuclear stations (as well as the earthquake and tsunami all through the weekend) and asking each other for updates. You over there aren't very far from anyone's thoughts right now. I'm very glad that you and your husband are all right.

    I hope at least delivery services are restored soon, if not the power services. Take care.

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  12. Thanks for the update, Nat - I've been thinking of you...and have been watching the updates on news which make me feel so overwhelmed for the people living in Japan who have lost so much. I can imagine that the nuclear plants are causing some anxiety for all. I'm glad you have enough supplies to get through these days...please know that you and ALL the people in Japan (especially those in the affected areas) have been in my thoughts and prayers.

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  13. Thanks for keeping us updated. I'm so glad to hear that you're okay and that you've got enough food and stuff to hold you for a while. The whole nuclear situation makes a me nervous, and I'm an ocean away. I can't imagine having it right there and having to wonder what's really going on (and what's just rumor or sensationalist journalism). It goes without saying that you and all those affected are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Stay safe!

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  14. Nat, so glad to hear you and the family (and books!) are ok. I've been following events closely as I have another friend in Tokyo, and others in Hawaii who were anticipating trouble from the tsunami there. Its truly shocking, and I hope the nuclear power plants stabilise soon so everyone can begin to rebuild their homes and lives in safety.

    Thinking of you all. xx

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  15. Glad to hear you are safe Nat. Thank you for the updates. I watched footage with horror and dread. it is painful to watch.

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  16. I was happy to see you tweeting on the weekend. I hope things start to improve soon. I've never been to Japan but it seems like such a pretty part of the world. Keep safe.

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  17. Thinking of those affected by the earthquake & tsunami each day :( And thinking of you too! Hope da kittehs will not have any more stress than they've had so far (the less worry for you). *Sending relaxation vibes for the body aches*

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  18. It is just so heart-breaking to see the images of the aftermath from the quake. Thank you so much for keeping us updated and praying that you guys are doing well and all the best for everyone over there!

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  19. I continue to keep you in my thoughts these days! We have a friend who is in Tokyo on business and haven't heard from him since his initial emails. We're hoping his silence is due to the rolling blackouts. Keep us posted on how you're doing! Hugs!

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  20. Pardon the deleted comment. I thought it sounded too perky and decided to remove it. It's hard to tell whether the radiation situation is as grim as it sounds, since American news is pretty over-inflated, but I'm thinking about you all the time and all of Japan is in my thoughts and prayers. I adore the Japanese, "Just get on with it," attitude.

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  21. Thanks so much for the updates. I am glad you aren't watching the horrifying images over and over. It is certainly the best thing you can do for your mental health. I wish we could send you groceries but trying to get them to you is not realistic. The best we can do is make donations and hope that everyone will benefit.

    My thoughts are with you! Hugs!

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  22. Hi Nat, Good to know that you and your family are safe. Hope your cats are ok, too! My thoughts and prayers are with Japan. Hope things return to normal soon.

    Best Wishes, Indu

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  23. Thank you so much for the update. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the events.

    This has prompted me to recheck my food storage and make sure I have the necessary things! Way to be prepared.

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  24. Thanks for the update. So glad to hear you are safe. You (and all of Japan) are in our thoughts and prayers.

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  25. Great to know you are safe - I haven't heard yet from a friend in Tokyo. The Australian coverage is tiny compared to Singapore's, so I'm in need of detailed updates.

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