Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Quake Day Seven

March 17, Thursday

Now it has been one week since the big quake. And I am getting a bit worried. Not so much about the continuing small aftershocks, but that today I went to town by bike to see how the recovery is going. Keep in mind we are on the far southern edge of the disaster area. We got off with very little damage, and the tsunami was much smaller than up north, due to our shallow shelf which bled a lot of the energy off before it struck home. So don't imagine damage like you see on CNN. Only (?!) three people died in our town.

The city and national governments are doing a good job in my opinion. The lines for water are short, if you have a need, you can just ask one of the city workers at the center and they will take care of you. Diapers and baby formula are available within minutes.
Power has been restored, as far as I know, to the whole city, including the parts flooded by the tsunami.
City crews are working on the water mains, and have restored water to quite a few parts of the city.

Filling water tanks by roof damaged buildings
It is the private sector that is worrying me. One week after the quake, I peered into the windows of nine or ten supermarkets, home centers, and drugstores.
Two drugstores appear to have not been touched since the quake hit. Bottles and glass on the floor, shelves of food and medicine that could have been used by the victims here in Takahagi, and even more, up north.
One week after the quake- an untouched drugstore full of bady needed supplies...
Two home centers were closed, even though they are major suppliers of kerosene for space heaters here in Japan. The signs stated they are unable to open due to damage inside the store. But the kerosene station is far outside the building...

loosely translated: "Notice- due to earthquake damages, we are unable to offer any items, inluding kerosene for sale at this time"
Two supermarkets were empty as far as I could see, two more were open only in the mornings, and the only supermarket open this afternoon was the large Aeon chain store, which was rationing severely. I approved of their strategy- only strict rationing like that can prevent the hoarding that follows a disaster like this. I was able to buy a can of generic cola, a can of whole tomatoes, and amazingly, a large can of baby formula for a very resonable price- actually much lower than the usual price.

"Please choose only one item per rack"
 However, the independent fruit/vegetable store on the corner across from the big supermarket in Akiyama was doing booming business. Cabbages, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and fruit were available. The wonderful woman running the store is a miracle worker- combing the area for produce, and not gouging prices too badly (of course, being independent, the store was always more expensive than big chains). Thank God for local merchants!

All the gasoline stations in the city were closed, most with signs saying they were closed indefinitely. The TV news reports that the tanker trucks have started moving again, but it will take a long time to catch up to the demand. Personally, I hope they send trucks of kerosene to the worst affected areas. We can drive later- they are dying up there in the cold.

"Due to quake damage, closed indefintely"

On the way home, I stopped to visit some friends, pick up some supplies they had bought for us, and just share stories with. We had some seaweed and instant ramen noodles for dinner, and watched the news.

Private sector- get on the ball. Even without new shipments in, your supplies are needed...

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