Greetings from Japan
By Samia Gordon
The constant drip of water formed a litany in my mind.
Almost every hour, every minute, every second for me was spent thinking. If I wasn’t thinking, I was talking. I talked about everything from school, to my dog - Boscoe - who was probably somewhere out there searching for me now. Of course, I was alone so no
one listened to my voice except for my own self. I dreamt, too. I dreamed of soft warm beds, my bed actually. Then, my whole room.. My room, with it’s purple walls decorated with memories, idols, and celebrity crushes.
Then I dreamt of my family. My mother, my papa, my brother,
Daiki. My mind wouldn’t let me go much further than thinking about our memories. Because I knew if I decided to step into the future of where they were and what they were doing, I would probably start to panic. And panicking was never good in a situation like
I just knew they were out there somewhere, probably calling my name, searching for me, Asami! Asami!,
their voices called out to me, in my mind. I shook my head as I thought about the events my life had been reduced to within a couple of hours.
It had been maybe, five hours... or maybe three days.
I never figured it out. I sat on the floor with it’s colorful, numbered carpet. It was a carpet made for children. The children of Ishinomaki. The small children, no older than five years old. A tear slipped down my face. This time I allowed myself to think about all the bright, young faces, faces that I would probably never see again. They had all left this afternoon, on a yellow bus that I was supposed to be on with them. But no, I had stayed behind to clean up, and hang their work around the classroom. Work I had helped them do earlier. I suppose I
should have been happy, to still be alive. But I could not because every now and then my mind would wonder; who was not as lucky as me?
The school in which I worked was a young people’s school.
Kindergarten. I was one of the many teachers there, although I was the youngest at twenty years old. What had happened here today, though, had maybe increased my age by more years than I wanted. An earthquake, a tsunami, is what I knew them to be called. When it all started, if you can believe it, I got down on the ground and glanced at the clock. It had been 2:46 p.m. I had waved goodbye to the children and the other teachers less than twenty minutes ago. The panic was like a flutter of wings in my stomach, and a fire in my throat. The horror choked me with it’s steely, cold hands, and as I had gripped my stomach, I prayed for it to be over.
It had seemed like it went on for hours. I had just lain on the floor, clutching my stomach with my eyes closed, hearing crayon boxes, and books, and stuffed animals, and toys fall from their places on the shelf. But I didn’t dare move a muscle. I felt a book strike me on my shoulder, but it didn’t hurt enough to make me rise my head, just whimper slightly with the small sting. By the time it was over, tears had streaked down my face. I didn’t get up immediately after it was over. I stayed there, on that colorful carpet, listening to the clock tick. The clock. My head went up then, to stare at the hands that denoted time. It was 2:50. I was amazed, horrified, and shocked all at the same time. The shaking had lasted for five whole minutes! It was at that moment I wished I had had a television or cellphone. I had no way of making contact with the outside world.
So I had sat there thinking, maybe, just maybe, someone would come searching for survivors. And they’d find me. I don’t know how long I sat there, just thinking, when I heard the gush of water, like a river was just outside the door. I didn’t go outside, of course, my courage didn’t stretch that far. But I did manage to crawl across the floor, to look out the window. I was forced to stand, as the position I was in didn’t allow me to see much outside, especially because the school sat on top of a hill. When I managed to look outside, what I saw horrified me into numbness. A wall of water was rushing through the city. I didn’t know what to do, besides plopping back down on the floor. My breath came in choppy sobs, and I began to shake. I was going to be drowned, I just knew it.
There was a tsunami on the way to finish the job that the earthquake had failed to complete, which was killing everything in its path including - I swallowed hard - me.
Japan Tsunami and Earthquake
Japan today rocked by a massive earthquake measuring 8.9 Magnitude. This “japan tsunami” became the hottest topic in the entire television and mass media headline news. According to foxnews.com :
View map of Japan
The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, most of them of more than magnitude 6.0. Dozens of cities and villages along the 1,300-mile stretch of the country’s eastern shore were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter in the sea off the northeastern coast.
A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific, including areas as far away as South America, the entire U.S. West Coast, Canada and Alaska. Kyodo news agency said 15 people were killed. The government confirmed only five deaths.
“The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.
Even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions. Large fishing boats and other sea vessels rode high waves into the cities, slamming against overpasses. Upturned and partially submerged vehicles were seen bobbing in the water.
Waves of muddy waters swept over farmland near the city of Sendai, carrying buildings, some on fire, inland as cars attempted to drive away. Sendai airport, north of Tokyo, was inundated with cars, trucks, buses and thick mud deposited over its runways. Fires spread through a section of the city, public broadcaster NHK reported.
A large fire erupted at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and was burning out of control with 100-foot-high flames whipping into the sky.
NHK showed footage of a large ship being swept away and ramming directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 2:46 p.m. quake was a magnitude 8.9, the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s, according to NHK.
A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities said they expect a 3-foot high tsunami.
The quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast, the agency said. The area is 240 miles northeast of Tokyo.
In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. The tremor bent the upper tip of the iconic Tokyo Tower, a 333-meter steel structure inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Several nuclear plants along the coast were partially shut down, but there were no reports of any radioactive leakage.
In central Tokyo, trains were stopped and passengers walked along the tracks to platforms. NHK said more than 4 million buildings were without power in Tokyo and its suburbs.
A large numbers of people waited at Tokyo’s Shinjuku station, the world’s busiest train station, for service to resume so they could go home. TV announcers urged workers not to leave their offices to prevent injuries in case of more strong aftershocks.
Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday. Dozens of fires were reported in northern prefectures of Fukushima, Sendai, Iwate and Ibaraki. Collapsed homes and landslides were also reported in Miyagi.
Japan’s worst previous quake was in 1923 in Kanto, an 8.3-magnitude temblor that killed 143,000 people, according to USGS. A 7.2-magnitude quake in Kobe city in 1996 killed 6,400 people.