8.9 Earthquake in Japan…..My experience from outside Tokyo. 3/11/2011

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

over the course of the next few days, I am going to slowly and thoroughly document what happened from my point of view.  i will not cover the main blow of damage, as i have no first person view of that, and it is well documented by the news.

As you probably know, my memory is not great.  I am likely to forget the details of this event quickly.  i wish to preserve them, so I will be writing this mainly for that personal, diary type reason, but if someone wishes to read these accounts or share them, I would be very happy that it has served another function.

 

I will have to do it a little at the time because during the ordeal i seem to have gotten frostnip on my fingers, and typing is not good for that.

 

1.

It started out like any other day.  There had been a major quake up north a couple days ago, but it already seemed like a thing of the past.  We had hardly felt it here.  It was certainly not on my mind as i woke up and went about my usual chores.   I was to make rum balls, so i was preparing the ingredients for that.  I was also working on a video.

When suddenly, the room started shaking.  The first thing that went through my mind was, get the camera.   I even stepped in the direction of it but as i did the shaking increased and got to a level that scared me so much that I quickly forgot the camera and stumbled instead to the toilet room.

Describing what a medium-largish quake  feels like is rather difficult.  It seems so very different in real life than on video.  I guess in a video, you already know the *camera’s eye* survived….the person filming is alive….and you dont feel the physical motion…..like watching someone jump out of an airplane on TV….it is just different.

But in real life…you never know when it:s gonna get worse.  Every shake that is slightly stronger than the one before leaves you filled with the adrenaline of believing the roof is going to cave down on you with the next wave.

The cracking and banging walls sound as though they are being ripped apart and it is still hard for me to believe that they could go through that without structural damage.

It really feels like the forces are pulling on the room from all directions at once….ripping it apart in different directions.   When you feel that, and the huge energy under your feet, moving the ground in ways you just dont expect the ground to move……it totally throws your whole balance off. literally!

it really makes you realize how much faith we put into the fact that the ground is stable.  When that stability is gone….it:s like all stability in the world is gone and there:s nothing you can do but pray.

Some quakes are up and down, some side to side, and some form a wave-like combination.  this was the latter type.

sometimes gentle and with a high amplitude, sometimes jerky and shorter and random, sometimes in combination, i could make no sense of the way i was moving.  it was very dizzying.  hard to stand, hard to get oriented, and especially hard to think and hard to breathe  ….i cant even find words for how it feels.

So there i sat, crouched down, praying,….begging nature to stop! please stop!

i crouched….listening with 120% focused, adrenaline induced attention to every little sound….the violently sloshing water in the toilet bowl, the items falling, the cracking and creaking, the banging and clanking…and the worst sound of all i think, the sound of the building seemingly being lifted very slightly and dropped back down….that heavy structural sound that i really dont know how to describe.

Each sound inducing fear that *maybe that is the sound of the structure breaking* *maybe the next thing i  see will be the room fall apart*  * maybe i will be trapped in the bathroom*  *maybe the building will catch on fire*   *will i burn to death?*  *will i be trapped for days*  *will i get out only to find that yasu did not make it* *will i have to follow drones of strangers for weeks until i can be reunited with someone i know* *will my world be plunged into the dream-like state of utter tragedy now?*

My life did not flash before my eyes…..the devastating possibilities of the near future did.   and i braced myself for them.

Now, I must mention.  it didnt get all that bad here.  it wasnt so much the fact of how bad it technically was that scared me….it was the fact of knowing it COULD be much worse.  it MIGHT be like that…that this might be *IT*….the one we all fear…….There is never ANY IDEA of how long or bad it will end up being.  They tend to start smallish and escalate more and more, quite often.   no warning, no clues…….not before and not during…….even when it stops you do not know if it is really over.  there could be many.  the next one could be worse……no clues.   no info.  nothing but rolling the dice of fate.

Finally it died down and i sang my praises to the heavens, and went to get the video camera and cell phone, room still shaking mildly.

to be continued.

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Comments
  1. Thank you for the blog, Van Tilden. We’ll continue updating, and keep us posted and all that.

  2. […] Van Tilden’s first-hand account of the earthquake in Japan. Please read and comment, as she is now a first-hand guide about these important current world events! over the course of the next few days, I am going to slowly and thoroughly document what happened from my point of view.  i will not cover the main blow of damage, as i have no first person view of that, and it is well documented by the news. As you probably know, my memory is not great.  I am likely to forget the details of this event quickly.  i wish to preserve them, so I will be writing this mainly for that personal, diary type reason, but if … Read More […]

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