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Tell It Like It Is


Japan, The Morning After




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Disclaimer:
Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

Tell It Like It Is
March 12, 2011 | 1,542 views | Post a comment

We all live in a world where disasters can disrupt our lives. It matters not if they are fires, floods, hurricanes or volcanoes erupting, if it impacts our lives we are devastated. The people of Japan are well aware they spend their daily lives facing serious threats from all of these dangers. But, the one natural event they used to trea as routine was the ongoing certainty of earthquakes.

Jim White is a retired Army friend who was by my side for a year in Vietnam. Since the end of that war he and his wife Sachiko have made their home in Japan, where he has completed a second career as a university professor. When the tsunami hit that island nation I tried to reach Jim, to no avail. This morning he responded by email.

“First of all, we are Ok”, he wrote. He reported that nothing was close to where he lives ... yet! “There have been perhaps 120 earthquakes of M.4 and above since the big one of 8.9 or so 18 hours ago. They have also moved south to the Izu Peninsula and island (and) to Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. Therefore the future is very unpredictable.”

He goes on to write, “there have been tsunami all over Japan with the highest being 23 feet. In some places the tsunami warning system is damaged so there may have been even higher ones. At one point the entire coastline was covered with tsunami warnings and most of the Pacific side of Japan is still under threat.”

Jim reported that even Tokyo had a rough time. “We were able to call our relatives yesterday evening and everyone was OK. The trains were completely down and the roads very, very crowded (if passable at all), so many people ended up staying in the train stations and emergency shelters all night. There is some limited train service this morning.”

Some messages did get through to him on his notebook computer, but none on the desktop unit. International telephone lines were jammed and Skye was down. He can’t reach anyone on regular telephone service, sending his message to me via email and admitting he was not even certain that would work.

While living in Japan, we regularly experienced earthquakes and really thought nothing about the events. I still remember standing and looking out a floor to ceiling picture window on the second floor of a building when things started to shake and the entire wall in front of me fell away, leaving me standing in front of a gaping hole. I also still remember a train ride when the earth started to move and there were railroad cars that shook off the track. Things such as these are common happenings and part of everyday life in Japan. Now, with the largest earthquake in the nation’s history and this death-inflicting mountain of water called a tsunami, the people of Japan will never again consider an earthquake as just another common natural event.

Semper Fidelis
 
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