Monday, March 14, 2011

The Aftermath

Man, life sure feels different.

Everything has changed so quickly here. The worst part is that if I'm saying that and feeling the effects of the aftermath (in one of the least affected towns in the Tohoku region), it's hard to fathom the position of the millions of people facing so much more. As we get caught up on the rest of the country's status and more news stories unfold, it becomes more and more obvious that we got unimaginably lucky. It's a strange position to be in; of course we're extremely thankful, but it's hard to escape a sense of survivor's guilt or something of the sort knowing what's going on around us. The following is a video circulating around FB that was taken 17 miles south of our house in Hachinohe. 17 miles. And Hachinohe hardly scratches the surface of the devastation.

Here's a rundown of our status in Misawa:

First, the base is in full swing supporting "Operation Tomodachi." It's establishing itself as a hub for relief operations and several international relief teams arrived here today and have headed out to the heavily-damaged areas. Volunteer plans, donations, etc are being coordinated. Everyone is very eager to do what they can to help. Right now it's a matter of figuring out how to best help without getting in the way or becoming more of a liability or burden to the Japanese people.

As for our personal situation, we have all our utilities up and running right now (although rolling blackouts are likely). Our landlord came by a while ago to tell us there is no more kerosene in Misawa (the storage tank cracked somewhere) and no way of knowing when more might become available, so we'll be losing heat and hot water at our house soon. Gas is being heavily rationed; we have about a half tank in each car, so that should last us for a while. I don't think food will be a problem for us personally (the only things being rationed currently at the commissary are water and bread), but it's rapidly becoming a big issue for the Japanese. Store shelves are emptying very quickly.

The aftershocks have slowed way down. There was only one sizable quake today. There was a false-alarm second tsunami warning at one point today and there's still a 70% likelihood of a 7.0 or higher happening within the next 3 days, so there's definitely plenty to keep us on our toes. In fact, our toes are getting pretty worn out. It's exhausting constantly being on the edge of our seats waiting for the next disaster to strike.

Speaking of which... there's that whole pesky nuclear situation in Fukushima. Yeah, I don't know what to say about that one. If you listen to the news, it's either the end of the world or nothing to think twice about. I'm no nuclear physicist, so I've given up trying to figure out what the real dangers might be. The official party line up here from the powers that be states: "Official studies indicate that Misawa is far enough away to never be impacted by a nuclear disaster at the affected facilities." So... there you go. Since there's nothing we can do about the situation whether that statement is true or not, I'll just pretend it is and not think about the alternative. No sense crying over spilled radiation...

In the end, we have the base and the American government taking care of us. They've done a great job so far, and I have faith they'll continue to do a great job as time passes. We have it easy. This isn't our catastrophe, our pain, or our loss.

My heart is so very heavy for the people of Japan.


crazy bunny lady said...

Patty, you are such a sweet, caring person. I am so glad you are okay, and so sad that you are going through this. I'm also very sad for the people of Japan who are trying to recover. It's all just so tragic.

You and C and everyone over there are in our prayers. We are donating too, and just wish there was something more we could do. Please let us know if there is.

Michelle said...

I'm so glad you are safe! I was watching more news coverage this morning and seeing how awful the aftermath of this is in Japan. It is heartbreaking. Thanks for keeping us informed since you are probably getting better information than we are. Stay safe.

LizzyB said...

Thanks for posting and keeping us up to date. I was really wondering how the base was reacting to this. I'm glad you guys are ok and I'm praying for the Japanese people.

margaret said...

Very informative - and heartfelt - post. You have such a unique perspective - unharmed, but right in the middle of it all. And as time goes by, it seems that you will be sharing in some of the deprivation - like no heat or hot water! This will be unforgettable. Our hearts are with you and with Japan.

Paula Bigelow said...

We have been so worried about you and Corey - it sounds like you are doing as well as expected. We can't possibly imagine the devastation for the Japanese people - it is heart-breaking to watch on tv. You have given us even more insight - thanks. Please be safe, and give Corey a hug for us!
Mom & Dad B

Marianne said...

Reading a couple of days late... I'm so glad you guys are still safe, but it sounds like a lot of stress and anxiety as you wait for what could potentially happen next. I guess it's comforting to hear that the "party line" from the powers that be is telling you that Misawa is safe... but that doesn't fix what has already happened to so many others. There are no words, just many good thoughts being sent to you!