Me and My Mom’s Story of Northeast Japan Earthquake

March 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

It has been more than 28 hours since M8.9 earthquake struck Japan.

I am an international student from Japan living in Southern California. I’ve been following the news since last night. As I write this, I am watching the online streams of Japanese broadcasts(FNN at and NHK on cox ch.400). Also, I am checking some other website. Most of them are just repetitive, yet they are updating about Fukushima Daiich Power Plant little by little, and it makes me just stop and stare at the screen sometimes.

I slept probably 3-4 hours last two days. I am really tired, exhausted, and sleepy, but I cannot go to sleep — Using this time, I thought I could write something. I know you will get much information about how big the earthquakes were, tsunamis were. Here, I want to tell you about a more local, small story, but something you will not get from the world wide news networks. I know I will have many grammatical mistakes and awkward sentences, but bear with me. I’m foreigner and also really tired, but I will do my best.

I got to know about the earthquake from my friend around 11p.m. EST since I was not home at the time. Right after, I got to know that Tsunami hit the coast area. I started checking Japanese news website to get the latest news at the time on my boyfriend’s cell phone, and then I found out they had Shindo 6-upper, the second largest level of Shindo* in the city where my parents live. They live less than 100 miles from Sendai, and I got really scared, though I was not really worried about tsunami because they live inland.

I grew up in Japan till I was 17 years old and have experienced many earthquakes, yet the biggest one I ever experienced is Shindo 5-lower. I was sleeping, but I woke up and started watching news. When I went to a mall a few hours later, the ceiling was on the floor with water from the air conditioner.

My friends told me they could not reach their family by phone because phone lines are jammed, so I texted my mom, and later to my dad, who was out of the town and in Kyushu, most south main island. I could not get reply for next hour; so, I started calling them. First, I called my dad a few times, but it never even rang. I tried to call mom, but I could not reach her either.

One last time I thought, and finally I reached my dad. A brief minute to two minutes talk, he told me all my family were fine. My mom wasn’t home at the time earthquake happened, but later she went home and found some plates were broken, but nothing major. Both of our cats were safe too.

I thought that was the end. I thought Japan got enough damage from earthquakes and tsunamis, but it did not end there.

I got home close to 2p.m.. I thought I would just check out a few videos and go to sleep, but I started watching the videos of tsunami hitting and was surprised. Japan has many earthquakes; so, compared to other countries, we are somewhat ready for earthquakes. They do have breakwaters and better structures.  However, the video was just like the ones I saw for Indonesian earthquakes and tsunami. In front of the camera, everything was just being washed away. It was worse than I thought. At this point, they changed the Magnitude to 8.0 class from the originally told M 7.0s.

Then I noticed an e-mail from my mom saying only thing she could use was a cell phone. No power, water, gas, or anything. I e-mailed her back, but even an hour later, I could not get a reply back. Cell phone lines were still jammed and thought she might have not even gotten mine. I had school and had not had enough sleep the day before; so, I decided to go to sleep. I knew I could do anything from here, though at this point, they started releasing some information about problem at the power plant. It was getting bright outside.

I barely slept. From 8:30 am, I have been watching live stream of Japanese broadcasting a whole day. I checked my e-mail right after I woke up, but there was no message from my mom. On the electricity company website, I found out that they did not have power there yet. Not only that, there is no gas or water.

(… to be continued : I cannot write anymore. It just took a long tome to just write this because I constantly stop writing to watch live stream.

more update tomorrow, a story of my mom is coming up.)

— Update —

I finally went down stairs and grabbed some food. I just couldn’t leave from the live stream. My host brother told me that I could watch NHK, Japanese national broadcasting station, on the cable; so, I grabbed my laptop and started watching it downstairs. Being a Journalism major student, I could not just watch one news. I was watching two news broadcastings while checking online sources.

After watching 10 hours of TV, I got a call. It was my mom. I do not think there had been any time that I felt so happy hearing her voice. I almost cried hearing her voice knowing she was ok.

She told me that they finally got electricity back as well as water. While I was talking with her, a guy from gas company came to her place and checked the line and also if there was any leak or not; so, I told her that I can wait for a little bit. She called me back in 10 minutes or so, and finally I heard her story.


— Last Update: Mar 29 —

To this day, I am still worried about her because of the situation at nuke plants in Fukushima. I am also worried about people who still are in Fukushima at this moment. I really think that we had enough there, yet at the same time, I am learning about how Tokyo Electricity company has been operating and the lack of Japanese government’s supervising.

This is happening NOT because of Earthquake or Tsunami. It is because of their carelessness.



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