East Japan Earthquake    March 11, 2011

Kazu

40 years old, ex- self-defense official, native of Misawa city, Aomori prefecture
When the earthquake erupted, and I was notified of the location of the epicenter, I immediately knew that my family and friends were in danger. I have many friends, family and relatives in Aomori, Iwate, and Miaygi prefectures, which are the areas most damaged by the recent earthquakes. On the first day, I was not able to get in contact with any of them, but at around 6:30am the next day, I was able to talk to my mother, who resides in Misawa city of Aomori prefecture. According to my mother, she has electricity, but no gas or water. All means of transportation has been suspended and there is a shortage of food supply. She has been helped by those neighbors who were luckily enough to avoid the tsunami because their houses were located in high places. Other than my mother, I have been able to confirm the whereabouts of the family of my younger brother. Unfortunately, I also confirm that one of my friends who lived close to the shore died from the tsunami.

I have not been able to get through to any other areas, and, even with the help of Internet sites which provide information of whereabouts, I have not been able to locate the rest of my friends and family. The afflicted areas have been completely demolished and since the city hall has also been destroyed, the city government is not operating properly.

This earthquake is unlike that of the epicentral earthquake in the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake back in 1995, where the epicenter of the earthquake was right below the metropolis of Kobe. Most of the damage was done by the tsunami following the earthquake. I am an ex Self Defense official and I know how difficult it is to confirm the whereabouts of the victims both living and the deceased. I know just from watching TV that the wood and glass debris is everywhere, but I hope that the bodies will be recovered so that they can be identified by their family members.

I also hope that the Japanese Self Defense Forces will be able to deliver food, blankets and tents to the victims. It may take up to one month for the victims of the area to receive electricity.

Since the emergency evacuation areas and tents are not made for permanent residence, I believe it is of utmost importance that the government would promptly initiate the construction of temporary housing. As of now, there are 1,400 people in schools of the area and one blanket has to be shared by 3 people. There is a shortage of water, food supply, medicine and medical staff.

I have heard from my colleagues from Japan Self Defense Forces that they are prepared to send the back-up and retired personnel for the rescue efforts in accordance to the estimated victims, which just tells the severity of the catastrophe is much more than what we can imagine from the pictures and videos seen on the news and on the internet. I believe the estimated number of victims will only increase as more and more details are discovered.




Tsunami crushing Hachinohe Harbor, the city next to Misawa, Kazu's hometown.



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