Two weeks have passed after 9.0-Magnitude Earthquake hit Japan. I cannot but feel so grateful for all the prayers and support to Japan from around the world. Indeed, we are facing immense challenge, but I am hopeful that we are united to overcome this difficult times.
While praying for the people suffering from cold, fear, hunger and sorrow, and sending utmost gratitude for those workers in the nuclear power plant to avoid further catastrophe, let me write a little bit about what had happened around me in Tokyo on March 11, and thereafter.
I was at my desk as usual in the afternoon of Friday, March 11. When I was talking with my colleagues at around 2:45pm, a loud siren warning earthquake rang. As we turned on the TV to gather information, it started swaying a little bit; the TV showed that there was an earthquake in Northern part of Honshu Island. With that initial information, I imagined at that moment, Tokyo was rocking slightly, reflecting an earthquake few hundred kilometers away. However, even after a while, it didn't stop quaking, and we started to feel that this is not a usual earthquake. We even felt the shake become larger and larger, the size of an earthquake which I had never experienced. We looked around, and saw the bookshelves dance, squeaking. Someone said "we should hide ourselves under the desk" (which is what we all learn in school in Japan) and I did so. It was the first time ever in my life that I indeed hid myself under the desk outside school.
When the big quake was gone, we could by that time understand that this could be an unprecedented earthquake. The old TV was not showing visual image anymore, but we could hear the TV announcer alarming for tsunami. I checked the web for more information. It was a level 5+ quake in Tokyo, and level 7 at the earthquake center. Subsequently (after we fixed the TV), TV started showing pictures from the tragic Northern cities... I could not believe my eyes... I suppose I needn't write much about what it showed, since it was broadcast all over the globe.
Within next 30 minutes or so, we started to collect documents on past earthquakes, to learn measures to tackle the situation. In the meanwhile, we also tried to contact our families either by e-mails or by telephones. Phone lines were not working, and it took time to reach each other. It was an irritating moment. I knew we had to work and get going, but I couldn't focus much.
Trains stopped that day, and everyone lost their transportation to their homes. Some decided to go home on foot (with determination that they would walk for at least couple of hours); others decided to wait until trains recover, or simply stay at the office that night. Some local trains resumed their service, but I decided to stay over with couple of other colleagues. Aftershocks came quite frequently that night. We kept on the TV to get up-to-date information, checked Internet, chatted sometimes, and took a brief rest.
It was a cold night in Tokyo. I went out several times to see what was going on in the city. It was nothing like an ordinary night: there were many people on street, heading to their homes in many groups. There were volunteers wearing bright jackets showing their will to support those who need help. There were also civil patrol volunteers. It was reported that many stores offered free space for tired people who could not reach home, or provided free Wifi, battery charge, etc. I was quietly proud of this mutual support amongst strangers.
Two weeks have passed since that day, but we still don't know the entire extent of the damage to our society. Crisis is on-going, because the earthquake triggered nuclear plant crisis which is not yet solved. Lots of people are striving to regain their life, after having lost/missing their loved ones, their cozy home, and their usual daily life. At this moment, only thing I can say is that we are determined to support those in sorrow and inconvenience; we are more than thankful for those workers fighting to stop the nuclear plant crisis, and we are touched by many support from around the world. This shared feeling is strengthening ties amongst people. Indeed, we are still in difficult times, but we are all working for, and envisioning for bright future in the now-devastating areas. And I am sure we can make it happen.