Saturday, March 12, 2011

The day the Earth moved and everyone forgot how to READ

This week the world watched as one of the most powerful earthquakes in history rocked Japan and led to a devastating tsunami sweeping through the country. It was front page news, headline news and on every major newstation for hours as the media looped the raw footage as it was being released.
And where was my little family?
Over 1000 miles away on Okinawa, the small island located off the southwestern coast of mainland Japan. We had a tsunami warning issued for the island on Friday evening, with waves predicted to reach 2 meters (approximately 6 feet) as a result of Japan's 8.9 (though now, 2 days later its been officially declared as a 9.0 magnitude earthquake) earthquake and the powerful aftershocks. What wasn't commonly mentioned is the extreme amount of quakes in the area for DAYS before this monster hit.
I've been checking this website (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/region/Asia_eqs.php) almost daily for about a month now. We've had 9 earthquakes on Okinawa since the beginning of February. It's stressful to me and I've considered asking for anxiety medication to deal with it, but I haven't. Yet. Looking at the site, there were over 120 measurable quakes before the now 9.0 hit. Since it hit there have been nearly 150 aftershocks, many considered significant (measuring over a 6.0 magnitude). This quake has been a long time in the making, but no one predicted it to be so powerful, so destructive or so life-shattering. The video coverage, boats being tossed around like a toy in a bathtub, cars being washed away and whole farms flooded in mere seconds had led to an automatic panic, though understandable, of our friends and family back home.
One of the first things I did, upon learning of the situation in Japan and our subsequent tsunami status, was to post on Facebook all the information we had as it came. I also posted it on Mac's wall because he's not always timely about doing so. I made sure to let people know we were safe.
And still, the concerns and questions with borderline DEMANDS to know we were okay started coming in. It was, as if, my statuses were lost in communication between the fear of the unknown and the assurance that we were safe. I explained in posts that we live on an island 1000 miles from the quake. "Did you feel it?" "What did you see?" "Are you leaving the island?" from well-meaning friends and family, became overwhelming when we're repeating the same info over-and-over-and-over, because it seems everyone stopped listening as soon as they heard Japan and couldn't process the distance, a literal ocean's apart, from the devastated affected area to our safe little island. It was frustrating trying to explain we're not even on the same fault line as the mainland. Yes, we've had earthquakes, last February's being the most powerful one I've ever personally felt, but nothing like what Tokyo experienced.
I suppose we should be grateful so many people were worried/concerned for our family's safety. And believe me, I was deeply touched by all the concern I was receiving. I take part on several forum boards on babycenter.com and I made sure to post on those that I'm on near daily, that we were okay. I was surprised to see a thread started, inquiring about my safety, on my birth board, which I hardly ever post on anymore. I felt very blessed that so many people, whom I've never met in real life, were concerned for my safety. These people were wishing my family well and safety on the forum and my facebook page.

So while the repetition of info to so many people was tedious, the concern overwhelming and the comprehension of simple geography not fully grasped, in the end everyone knows we're safe. The tsunami predicted to reach 6feet was less than 2 feet. We've not had a single tremor here and while radiation from the failing nuclear plants is the newest concern, there's no radiation detected at the base closest to those plants on the mainland and that means there's none here either.

This is not anything I want to live through again anytime soon and for now it's life as usual in our neck of the world.

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