Friday, March 11, 2011

Before the Quake

It was a beautiful, sunny day. We've had a certain feeling of spring in Tokyo lately, that indicated that I soon might start bragging about outdoors lunches and freckles to my Norwegian friends. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to enjoy much of it, as most my days lately have been spent at the office, frantically working towards the aforementioned visit. So that was also where I was when we felt the shaking. We've had several quakes the last few weeks, but we soon realized this was bigger. Before I knew it, I was sitting under a table with a colleague - a mother - desperately trying to get in touch with her family.

Three major earthquakes, all over 7 on the Richter magnitude scale, and one reported at 8.9 (last I heard) started in the sea noth of Tokyo today. This caused a tsunami to hit the eastern shore of Honshu. Live TV footage of cars, houses - and probably people - being flushed away by the massive wave look like something from a disaster movie. One can only speculate how many are injured or killed. At the embassy we are working to locate all our nationals and to assess damage. The part closest to my heart at the moment is the local staff who are not able to go home (all public transportation is out, and walking in Tokyo is not an option, especially when millions of others are doing the same), and most of them also not able to contact their families since phones are down. We've had a few happy reunions here when kids have been picked up and brought here where we feel the most safe - which did what the terrible TV images had not yet: it brought tears to my eyes.

I am more fortunate than my Japanese colleagues, though. Our IP phones are working, and since Norway's phones are not affected, the other end is also working. With the calls, Facebook, email, and now this post, I have been able to notify my friends and family that I am okay. As one (or actually several) of my dear friends put it: "I have never been happier in my life that FB exists." Well, neither have I. In the end, what went through my head during the worst of the quakes was not concerns about my own safety, but gratefulness that I did not have family here to worry about.

We've had several afterquakes, and everyone is so distressed that it is difficult to know whether the ground is shaking or if we are. Still, at the moment I am not worried for myself, but I am scared to hear the news from other parts of the country. I will update when I get the chance.

26 comments:

sue said...

Mari, thankyou so much for the update. I'm grateful you've had the opportunity and been able to make time to communicate here in what must be an incredibly stressful time. The images being shown are frightening, with so many regions beyond immediate assistance.
As you say electronic communication is wonderful - when it works, and for the locals that doesn't sound like an option. Our thoughts are with you, your colleagues, and the Japanese people. Hugs too.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

How terrifying for you, the quickness of the quake must have been such a shock. Hope you and your family are as well as one can be.
Thanks for the update.

God Bless and Take care.
Yvonne.

Not Hannah said...

Luff you, lady. Sending prayers of stillness your way....

Anne Gallagher said...

I am glad that you are safe. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your friends at this time.

LL Cool Joe said...

I'm glad you are ok. My thoughts and prayers go out to both you, and your friends. I never understood the appeal of Facebook, but now I can understand that it does have a useful side to it too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cruella, I'm glad you were able to let us know you're all right! You were the first person I thought about when I saw the news this morning. The videos are surreal and terrible!

Liz P said...

As soon as I heard about this I thought of you. Glad to know you are alright!

What a scary experience! I saw some of the videos people had recorded and I can't even fathom that seemingly endless shaking...

Michelle Gregory said...

glad you're ok and able to communicate. prayers for Japan.

Tundiel said...

I can't believe you were calm enough to write a blog post...

So glad you are safe and well. *hugs*

Summer Frey said...

I've been grateful for Facebook as well--was able to find out the status of all my Japan-dwelling friends very quickly.

Glad you're alright!

Jules said...

Thank goodness, like Alex I thought of you immediately. So glad you are safe and please when possible keep us informed.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm glad you're okay! When I read there was an earthquake I immediately thought of you in Japan. The images and videos from the quake are just amazing--I can't imagine what it would be like to go through all that shaking.

Pat Tillett said...

VERY happy to hear that you are alright. We've heard from all my wife's family. Although shaken and battered, they are safe. Please take care...

Hart Johnson said...

Man, you said it--I think that fear for family would be absolutely the worst. I'm really glad you've been able to communicate so your friends and family know not to worry (much). I haven't been in an actual disaster, but when we have tornado warnings, I want to collect my kids and hunker down with them.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I’m so glad to hear you are okay. Hopefully, all those you’ve met there and their families are safe as well. Take care.

Deb and Barbara said...

I was so relieved that I could find out you were safe so quickly! Thanks for giving us your bird's eye. I'm sure the next days and weeks will be challenging. Sending you lots of love. Take care. Literally. xoxo B

Georgina Dollface said...

I was thinking about you this morning when I read the news. My eyes watered up when I read about the woman trying to get in touch with her family. I am glad that she had you by her side - I wouldn't want to be alone at a terrifying time like that. Thank goodness you are Ok. I am sending you and all your friends and colleagues my thoughts and prayers. I can't even imagine how distressing things must be over there right now. Take care. - G

LTM said...

oh, man, CC! So glad you're OK! Can you believe I'm currently in San Francisco, and I woke up this a.m. to nonstop coverage of "tsunami watch." Very unexpected...

thinking of you guys. Sending prayers and ((hugs)). Take care~ <3

nonamedufus said...

Been following the developments of the tsunami and quakes back here on television in Canada. You are definitely among the lucky ones. Let's hope the worst is over and you remain safe.

Kelly said...

I was glad to see your update and know that you are okay. I'll continue to check back here for more reports.

Cold As Heaven said...

Good that you're safe in Tokyo.

The earth quake is a terrible disaster. On the other hand, Japan is probably the country in the world (besides California, which is a state, and not a country, I know) which is best prepared to deal with it. Unfortunately, this quake was so close that there was no time to send out tsunami warnings.

The earth quake reminds us that nature has still some tricks that man is not able to control. Some time mankind will be extinct, but The Earth will survive

Cold As Heaven

Jan Morrison said...

Because I've been on a news fast for god knows how long I didn't even know about the quake until I went to visit my 90 year old pal. He always has the news on though there is no sound - you have to pick up a pair of earphones (left over from days when his altzheimering wife was still about). I was immediately worried about you my dear dear deario and am so glad to find you well and blogging to all of us worried pals. All love to you and your fellow workers and pals and indeed to all sentient beings affected by this. I will sit and do tonglen for all.
love, love, love.

K A B L O O E Y said...

So, so glad you're ok and were able to tell those back home this news, but I know how difficult it must be to watch others suffer.

Danette said...

Take care there and our best wishes to everyone there! We are all very worried about the news we hear and the images are quite frightening! Stay safe!!!

Mary Vaughn said...

You were the one I thought of first. Take care. Love and prayers to you and those around you.

RosieC said...

So glad to hear you're okay. Take care!

Related Posts with Thumbnails