Friday, March 18, 2011

One Week Later

::Deep breath in....Deep breath out:: Those are the words that I have been repeating to myself numerous times a day for the past week. It has been one week since the 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan; I imagine I will never have another week like this in my life, or at least I hope that I don't. It has been a week of stress, tension, and emotions of all kinds...and we are definitely not the worst off in this whole fiasco!

Last weekend and Monday were fairly normal days. We talked about the earthquake in school, where my kids were when it happened, why and how earthquake and tsunami's happen, etc. Then, Tuesday came. We were told mid-morning to keep the kids inside for recess because there were small amounts of radiation in the air. I had 5 kids picked up by the end of the day and on Wednesday, I only had 9 of my 16 kids in school. The radiation levels here were so small that we really had nothing to worry about.

We also had another 5.0 magnitude earthquake here on Tuesday night. AJ was here for this one, so now he understands! ;-)

By Thursday, it seemed that we were back on track, no earthquakes and the radiation levels had dropped even lower. That is, until I got a phone call from AJ during lunch telling me to go home and pack a bag for at least 4 days. By Thursday evening, they had announced on base that there was going to be a voluntary evacuation of all military dependents. AJ's squadron had already flown there jets to Guam and we knew that AJ would be joining them this weekend.

Friday, there was no school and we had to go to a meeting to "sign up" for our trip home. I am in category 4, which is military dependents with children over the age of 13 and dependents with no children. Basically, we are the last group to leave.

To say that I am scared is an understatement. The levels of radiation here are still very low and they are of no threat to us at the moment. But, we are being evacuated to the states in the near future. I had to pack a bag weighing no more than 50 lbs. and I packed 3 boxes to go home of stuff that I cannot replace if something happens. As I am typing this, AJ is planning on leaving for Guam this afternoon, which leaves me here with a few other wives to just sit around and wait. We were told yesterday that we would be put into groups, given a time to arrive and then go from there. The "list" of groups was suppose to be done yesterday afternoon, then it was 10:00 last night, and now here I sit at 8:45 am on Saturday morning and I still have no idea what group I am in let alone when I will leave, what city I will land in when I get to the west coast and how I will get home once I get there. All of the unknown, lack of sleep, and sadness are making this harder than I expected.

I hope to have more answers as the day goes on, but for now, please keep all of us and the Japanese in your thoughts and prayers. Our stress is difficult, but it is nothing compared to what is going on in the northern part of the country.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


So by now I am sure that you have all heard about the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan yesterday. If you haven't...well, go turn on the TV, pick any news channel and stare! It's everywhere!

We felt it down here too! We live about 200 miles from the where the epicenter was, which caused us to have a 5.0 magnitude earthquake here. IT....WAS....SCARY! A.J. was actually flying home from a 3 week detachment when it happened while I was still at school. Thank goodness that my students were already gone! We did have to evacuate the building and we shook for about 5 minutes. It is something that I hope I never have to experience again...and we were nowhere near the worst of it. Immediately after the quake hit, our cell phone service went down. We had internet connections, but no calls or texts were going through. As frustrated as I was that I could not get a hold of anyone, I was momentarily happy that I knew A.J. was in the air. That meant that he was safe and since I was too, there was no need to get in touch with him right then and there.

Before I left base for the day, I had to evacuate our mini-mart as well when one of the aftershocks hit. They continued late into last night, as we felt one when we got in bed at 12:30 AM. Luckily, through the earthquake and the aftershocks, we had no damage to our house or any of our stuff in it. We are at no risk for tsunami's seeing as we are too far inland. Thank goodness!

Well, now that you know how our days went, lets talk about the facts!

1. The earthquake was an 8.9 magnitude at the epicenter.

2. Immediately after it hit, tsunami warnings hit the entire east coast of the main island of Japan and some small portions of the west coast. The warnings later spread to Guam, Hawaii, California and many other countries.

3. As you have also seen on the news... a 23 foot tsunami hit Sendai City shortly after the earthquake struck. It took out cars, boats, buildings, power lines and just about everything else that was in its way! One of the saddest but most amazing things that I have ever watched in my life. The earth is a powerful force and although this has brought unspeakable amounts of devastation to this country, it is incredible that our earth has the ability to do something like this.

4. Sendai City airport is now completely under water.

5. After the earthquake, the Japanese train system and major highways shut down. This is completely unheard of here. The trains don't stop for anything!

6. The tsunami traveled 6 miles inland at some points and has already claimed hundreds of lives with over 1,000 people still missing.

7. This is the largest earthquake to hit in recorded history.

8. There were over 160 aftershocks recorded, 141 of them measured at a 5.0 magnitude or higher.

9. HS- 14 (a helicopter squadron stationed at NAF Atsugi) was the first U.S. DoD unit to respond with aid in Sendai City. They delivered over 2,000 pounds of food to a hospital outside of the city. Atsugi has also started collecting clothes, non-perishable items and pet food to be delivered to Sendai in the coming week.

10. Narita Airport (the largest in Japan) has been shut down since after the quake and their airliners have been diverted to Yokota Air Force Base, about 20 miles from where we live.

11. An large oil refinery caught on fire and burned for awhile.

12. On our base, we had a pipe burst in front of one of the gyms, part of the foundation crack in our Navy Exchange, and the mini-mart and commissary lost $1,000's in products that fell off of the shelves.

13. Numerous nuclear plants have had many different issues. The closest of these is 170 miles away from us.

14. Now the truly amazing.... the main island of Japan shifted 8 feet after the earthquake!!!!! Can you believe it???

15. The earth's axis tilted 4 inches after the quake. Also insane!!!! I was astonished when I read this.

I think that is all I know right now. Pretty incredible! Thank you to all of you who have checked in with us on Facebook or with our parents. We appreciate all the concerns, thoughts and prayers! We are both safe and sound at home, together. We will continue to keep everyone posted. In the mean time, if you have Facebook, check out the video that I posted there (I cannot save it to my computer to put it on here). It was recorded at Camp Zama, which is the Army base that we live 5 minutes away from. I feel it gives an accurate idea of how much we were shakin' over here!