Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Quake Day Four

March 14, Monday

Still aftershocks all night long, but can hardly notice them anymore. Used the last of the bread to make two slices of french toast for the kids. They are troopers and didn't complain (much) that they only got 2/3 slice each. The house is pretty much cleaned up- cleaner than usual in fact, since we have no electronic diversions. We spent most of the morning listening to the radio on and off. Worried about the Fukushima nuclear plant, about 80 Km North of us.

I had a brilliant idea and went next door to our old neighbor and asked if he had any newspapers. He did! There were special editions from Saturday and Sunday. Both just one page, but finally- news! We sat down and devoured the paper, finally able to see pictures to go with the images in our heads. It was upsetting to say the least.

A friend stopped by on her way to her house in the city- she brought news of gas stations opening (3 Gallon limit- three hour lines) and power coming back on in the cities south of us. Other friends of the neighbors came up to fill water tanks and bathe in his bath house. We exchanged news. Some had TVs in their car navigation systems, and were able to watch TV news before coming. Of course, there was no reception here in the mountians.

I decided that I would go to town on my bicycle to save gas, and try and contact some friends we hadn't been able to reach, since cell service has been spotty for the last two days. While I was there, I also planned to get some supplies from my school- all the batteries from any electronic things, a solar battery charger, and diapers.

I saw a gardening friend of mine at the bottom of the mountain and we talked a bit. Then an old student's mother stopped and inquired about us. I assured her we were fine. All the roof tiles had slid from her house, but no injuries. She gave me a bag of broccoli and a small Chinese cabbage. In town, I made phone calls to the wife's college friends. Town was eerily deserted. Traffic was easily 1/3 of usual.

My friend from the Ramen shop next door invited me in for coffee, and we talked about the disaster and the future of Japan. They gave me some fish and two pork roasts that they use for their Ramen. Since there was no electricity, they had to get rid of thawing food in their freezer. In return, I gave them a six pack of my homebrewed beer, and the chinese cabbage. Bartering food.

After cleaning up a little in the school, I headed for City Hall, where they were giving out diapers for families with children. Then I was able to watch some news broadcasts in the relief center. That is when it really struck me. I finally saw the tsunami. Video is a powerful tool. Scary too. As I left the area, I heard a familiar "chirp, chirp, chirp" sound. Sure enough, it was the crosswalk signal! I looked up and the traffic light was working! The florescent lights in the bank were on! Electricity had reached the city, or at least part of it!

When I arrived home, it was still without power, but I felt very hopeful that there would be electric soon. My hopes sank as evening fell, and then night. Candlelit evenings are becoming annoying, rather than romantic. After the kids went to bed, we listened to the radio news and went to bed.

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