We were in the Vancouver Airport this morning about to embark on the final leg of our trip home when I overheard someone mention a devastating earthquake in Japan. I immediately went in search of a newspaper and the headline hit me like a ton of bricks!
MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE HITS JAPAN
B.C. on watch after magnitude 8.9 quake shakes Tokyo and launches a 10-metre tsunami
Within minutes images began to come up on TV screens around the airport. We could hardly take it in. We were there just 10 days ago!
Were we glad we left just in time? Yes and no. Obviously, we’re happy to be safe but our thoughts went immediately to those we’ve grown to love. Were they okay? If we were still there with them, we’d know. Instead, we had a plane to board and several hours to wait before we could get information about any of them. What a helpless feeling! Also, we knew that if we were still in Japan, there would likely be ways that we could volunteer to help in the aftermath of the disaster. Instead, we sit in the comfort of our livingroom watching the same horrifying footage over and over again and waiting for news of friends.
I’ve managed to chat with several on Facebook already and others have posted reassuring messages. Though the worst damage occurred at Sendai, about 300 km northeast of Tokyo, our area just east of the city shook violently and has been subject to numerous aftershocks. In one of the homes that we stayed in, the computer fell to the floor and was damaged. Another friend mentioned her TV and many other items falling. Thousands of commuters were stranded in downtown Tokyo because the transit system shut down. Apparently they’re on their way home now. Some people have mentioned being short of food. Many others are without power and the possible leakage of radioactive material from a damaged nuclear power plant at Fukushima is, of course, of huge concern to everyone. Thus far, however, it seems that all our loved ones are probably safe and for that we are extremely grateful!
The earthquake didn’t come as a complete shock to us. When we lived in Japan, we were told that historically the Tokyo area is hit by a major quake about once every 100 years. The last one was the Great Kanto Earthquake of September, 1923 so people have been predicting that there would be another within the next decade or so. I don’t think anyone anticipated one of such magnitude, however, or the horrendous damage caused by the tsunami that it triggered. It will be some time until the extent of that damage and loss of life is fully known.