When I first started to feel the rumbles last Friday I was laying in my bed, which is downstairs, and Noah was sleeping soundly in his, upstairs. Obviously, having lived here for 3 years we are no stranger to earthquakes. I rolled over in bed and assumed it would be over in a second. The intensity began to grow. I shot out of bed to run upstairs to get to Noah. I could barely make it up the stairs, the house was shaking so much. By the time I reached Noah's room the intensity had died down a little but the earth was still quivering. Noah was still sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware of what had just happened. The power then went out. My cell phone rang, it was Jeff. I tried to answer but at that moment our cell phone service dropped. I tried sending him a text message, it would not go through. I tried calling anyone, cell service was clearly down.
Noah was still sleeping soundly.
At this point the worst of it was over and a message was being repeated over the loud speakers outside. The messages were all in Japanese. I ran to my windows to see what my neighbors were doing (of they were hauling ass out the doors, we would follow). Misawa is located on the coast and I was worried about a tsunami. At this point about 30 minutes had passed and Jeff pulled into the driveway. When the earthquake started he ran from his second floor office on Base and began to head home to me and Noah.
Noah was up at this point and in his very last diaper that we had in the house. I hopped in my car to see if one of my friends had a few extra. At this point we had no idea where the epicenter was or to what extent the Country had been effected. All we knew was that we had never really felt a quake that big before, but typically the power would be on within a few minutes and life as usual would resume. While driving I could sense a sort of panic amongst the people I passed on the street. I knew the situation had to be worse than we had ever experienced.
The rest you know.
Now, 5 days later, we are still struggling as a community to return to status quo. Our electricity was out for about 30 plus hours. Ever since the electric grid has struggled to operate at 100%. We are told to expect rolling black outs. The cities supply of kerosene has run out. Although most homes have electricity, their heat is kerosene, therefore they have to be very conservative with what rooms they heat and when. Luckily our house is 100% electric. And just to make matters more interesting, we got about 10 inches of snow last night. Winter is not over.
The supply of gasoline is low. Some, if not most, of the gas stations off Base report that they are out of gas. The Base has a private supply of fuel, however that is lower than the Commander would like and we are limited to filling our tanks one car at a time, when the level falls below a quarter of a tank.
Many grocery stores off Base are low on food. The Commissary on Base seems to be well stocked; they are only limiting the purchase of bread and water.
Then there is the nuclear disaster is Fukushima.
Misawa is about 230+ miles north of the nuclear power plant, so we have distance working in our favor. Seasonal winds are blowing from the north west, so that is in our favor as well. All of the reports from the leading minds in nuclear energy say that even in the worst case scenario we, in Misawa, would be fine.
Then there is the fear.
There are unknowns and risks in any situation. It just seems like the odds are stacking against us at times. After all, the ones at the most risk should radiation reach Misawa is a developing fetus. I can not help but worry. The rational side of my brain says not to; the Military would evacuate us should the situation turn critical. But then the irrational side kicks in, gets on the internet, reads different reports (without any real understanding of what I am reading) and starts to freak her freak out.
I worry that there will be another large earthquake. I worry that we will be stranded in Misawa with no way to get to adequate medical care, should something go wrong with my heart or my pregnancy. I worry about sending Noah back to school on Friday. I worry about leaving him alone in any of the rooms of our house, incase there is another earthquake!
But I am a mother and am not afforded the luxury of worry. I have to be strong for the kiddo. And for my health. And for my family.
In a perfect world, Noah and I would board the next plane out of here and head back to the States. But you can't run from a natural disaster. And besides that, I have looked into, the cost of tickets is insane.
Don't get me wrong, I know how lucky we are. We have heat, food and each other. I am so saddened by all the footage I have seen of our neighboring communities, the sobering images that is their reality. And I realize that my worries are futile in comparison to what they must be going through. What really struck hard and home to me was a video of a family on their roof, escaping the rising waters after the tsunami, holding their infant child in their arms. I could not imagine.
So here we are, we three (well, four!) in Japan, waiting for normalcy to return. We are so thankful to our friends and family who have shown support and love. Each day we find out more and our minds are put a little more at ease... let's just hope the worst is over.