Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day One (at My House) of The Great Tohoku Kanto Earthquake

March 11, 2011

We (my husband, 16-year-old Ai, and I) had just finished a late lunch. Ai was brushing her teeth and I was getting my things ready to take her (and me) to the dentist. And then the shaking began. It was 2:46 p.m. Japan Standard Time. It was the strongest and longest I had ever felt. Hubby stayed in the kitchen, holding our tall filing cabinet so that it would stay in the little storage area under the staircase. I shouted out for Ai to get to a safe place, and I scrambled under our living room table. Most earthquakes are a quick swaying or a shudder or a jump and might last up to 15 seconds or so (at least that is what the fireman explained at my last Fire Prevention Club ( 防火クラブ ) just the previous Sunday), but this one must have went on for a good three minutes. I wondered if it would never stop.

All over the house you could hear things falling, bouncing and breaking. Not all, but a good number of glasses and dishes fell out of the dish cupboard in the kitchen and crashed into smithereens. When it quieted down, I quickly wiped up some Worcester sauce that had spilled in the kitchen, but in the middle of that task I had to dive back under the table in the living room for repeated rumbles. The following hour was spent picking up the broken glass and cowering under the table. Ai had been hiding in the toilet room on the first floor, but then came and joined me under the living room table.

Around 3:40, we decided Ai and I should get in my car. It would be safer there since nothing could fall on us. So, Ai and I huddled in my car while the man of the house took his car to two different neighbors to check on the great-grandmothers who may have been all alone. (They both seemed to have already been fetched by other of their family members.) And there in the car, Ai and I watched the car TV. We saw the tsunami come into Sendai airport, and I immediately thought that Megumi would have to cancel her plans to fly into Sendai airport in another two weeks. Then we saw more horrors of tsunamis extending far beyond the scope of where we thought the earthquake was really taking place. And I began to be frightened about where Yuko and Makoto were.

By 6:00 p.m., Dad decided it was time to go looking for Makoto. We had no idea where he might be! Dad had dropped him off at a meeting place near Izumi-chuo station at just past 8:00 a.m. It was his first day of a part-time job as one of hands of a team of movers. After reporting to work, he would be told where the moving company would be using him that day. So, we truly had no idea where in town he could have been. I can’t even remember the time slots, but my husband went out three times – once alone, once with Ai, and once with Yuko. He and Yuko returned at 2:00 a.m.

Yuko had come home at 6:30 p.m. She brought home some bottled water, bread and batteries. And in the dark, we three gathered something to eat. I don’t even remember what now. We still had running water, but the electricity went off exactly when the earthquake began and we sat in the candle light at the kitchen table trying to put ourselves in Makoto’s place wondering what he’d do if he were in this place or that. And all we could come up with was that we had no idea how he might do anything at all! It was still possible to send text messages via cell phones, but our family uses PHS. (Oh, we are such a backwards, not-with-it family!) So, we texted Makoto every hour (or maybe it was more), and Yuko sent Megumi an email to let her know that 4 of us were fine. Oh, I felt just awful telling Megumi that we didn’t even know where Makoto was. They are so close, and with her on the other side of the world….. She was quite stressed out for a few days trying to get some news about our happenings.

to be continued...

1 comment:

theoldadam said...

On pins and needles for the next part!

Thank you for these accounts, Becky.