Saturday, March 12, 2011

...and then after

"The quake" is a misleading term. Yesterday I said that three earthquakes hit. That was an underestimate. We've had virtually continious afterquakes ever since the 8.9 hit at 2:46 pm local time. By now we hardly care to mention it. Every now and then someone will say "is it shaking?", two others will nod solemnly, and three more will look up nonplussed, as they have gotten used to the wave-like movements. The "crisis room" at the embassy is a mess of laptops, phones, food, empty coffee cups and note pads. We have rotating lists of people sitting "on duty" a couple of hours, then going out for some air, some sleep. If we can sleep. Whether your particular worry is the terrifying images of the tsunami, the security of your family, the nuclear power plants still in danger or the queasyness from the afterquakes, it is difficult relaxing. In fact, anything but work and watching the news (which now is work) is difficult. I've been out a couple of times, checking up on my house and stocking up on food, but I feel far more comfortable at the embassy than anywhere else.

We're coping. In Tokyo there is a strong sense of "business as usual" today - except among the foreigners. This morning I observed fellow expats at the store, white-faced, stocking up on supplies. The Japanese seem calmer. Last night was more "extraordinary" as such, since public transportation was shut down all night. In order to get home from work, people started walking - many of them for hours. The amount of people out in the streets in Tokyo on a Friday night - and for once none of them drunk - was surreal. Many were wearing their earthquake helmets, oddly mismatched with their dark suits and briefcases.

It is hard to understand the magnitude of what has happened. Death counts are slowly starting to rise, but it is likely it will increase further. The risk of a "Chernobyl" as a result of the possibly compromised nuclear reactors is obviously making both us and the rest of the world frightened.

Several of my friends have asked if I need provisions sent to me. The answer is no. As mentioned, Tokyo operates as usual for all intents and purposes (the only thing missing from the store this morning was Greek yoghurt, and the store sincerely appologized for this. I somehow doubt it will be critical...).  If I am to ask, though, my request would be your continued support and thoughts (and for those so inclined, prayers). Finally - if you feel like contributing donation-wise, I'd suggest to direct your attention to the areas affected by the tsunami rather than Tokyo. We are fine, they are not.

I'm very grateful for your support, and again - I will try to update here as soon as I can.

18 comments:

nonamedufus said...

It must all seem so surreal. It does here and we're miles away. Stay safe.

sue said...

I'm so grateful for your taking the time to share from a wonderfully human perspective. The news is comprehensive, and the footage underlines the devastation, but none of it comes near what you've written. Thankyou.
You have written as if you are a seasoned local! I'm in awe of your apparent calm in what is no doubt an extremely stressful situation.
Definitely sending thoughts to you and your coworkers and friends (and family back home too, they must be just a little tense)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thank you for up dating first hand.
We sit here helpless except to pray and think of you all in your hours of need,
Please take care you are not alone.

Yvonne,

The Words Crafter said...

I am so very, very glad that you're alright. The images we've seen are terrifying and I can't imagine the devastation, or it's aftermath.

Continue to be safe and you, as well as the country, are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anne Gallagher said...

After watching the news last night, I have no words. I'll continue to pray you're safe and for the people of Japan.

Pat Tillett said...

thanks for the update! glad you doing well...

Michael Offutt said...

Good to hear that Tokyo was for the most part spared. My sympathies go out to those northern prefectures that suffered the brunt of the cataclysm.

Hannah Kincade said...

It's so good to hear that you are doing well! Take care and thank you for keeping us posted.

Jan Morrison said...

yay that you are fine and Tokyo-ians seem to be good at handling this. I will still keep you in my heart. Thanks for keeping us abreast.

Jan Morrison said...

yay that you are fine and Tokyo-ians seem to be good at handling this. I will still keep you in my heart. Thanks for keeping us abreast.

Chary Johnson said...

Mari,

Glad to hear you are safe. I donated to the Red Cross. I didn't know what else to do as you are the only one I "know" who is over there. I hope and pray that those missing loved ones, will find them.

Take care.

Luv ya much and stay safe,
Chary

Hart Johnson said...

I think Sue said it better than I can--you offer such a human perspective. It makes it more tangible for those of us who've never been through something like this. *hugs to you* and the support and prayers... digressionary and otherwise, go without saying.

RosieC said...

Again, I'm so glad you're okay. I'm glad you're there to help the people you can through the embassy. Good luck. My thoughts are with you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Prayers I can do!
And from what I read this morning, because the reactor is underground, a Chernobyl is unlikely. Good.

LTM said...

thanks, for the continued updates, my dear friend! We keep hearing how "prepared" for this the Japanese are b/c of how much those guys deal w/earthquakes. I'm sorry, but I can't imagine being prepared for what I keep seeing happened... You are so in my prayers. As are all the people there. big love and hugs. Try to hang in there~ xoxo <3 <3 <3

Kal said...

You were the first person I thought of when I heard about the quake. I and the giraffes are very glad that you are okay. The adventure never ends for you does it? Be safe and stay brave. - Calvin

Boonie S said...

Pleased to know you're OK. We're thinking of you during this tragic time.
Take care.

Very best wishes from Boonie and Mrs S

Mason Canyon said...

So glad to know you are okay. Keeping everyone there in my thoughts and prayers. Take care.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

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