Earthquake - I thought I was going to die!

by Kevin R. Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Earthquake - I thought I was going to die!

Yokohama, Kanagawa, March 11th, 2011

I thought I was going to die. The building I was in was shaking much too much and I was on the third floor. I had met friends for lunch in Yokahama, and then went shopping afterwards. Usually the quakes here last a few seconds, usually 30 seconds is the longest. One minute is really long.

Richard Baladad`s Video - Dedicated to the Survivors of the Disasters in Japan

This recent 9.0 lasted over five minutes! In Yokohama it wasn`t a 9.0 it was probably a 6.3, like Northridge in California, which killed a few people. A few people also died in Yokohama and Tokyo unfortunately. A few buildings collapsed and there were some fires.

Anyway I decided that after one minute with shaking continuing to bolt for the stairs, and I made it outside. I was amazed when the building was still standing after five minutes and not only that, but all the buildings were standing around me. But stuff was all over the place. The drug store nearby had stuff spilled out into the sidewalk and the store was a total mess. People were totally freaked out.

I tried to make my way to a safer area. Funny I had always imagined now: What would you do if?

I imagined myself getting to a soccer field or somewhere. But in downtown Yokohama there aren`t any, but I was able to find a large plaza in front of the Washington Hotel that was a treed area. Plus the buildings around it were far enough away and seemed strong anyway.

I talked with a Japanese man and some Americans. Of course we think one earthquake. But it really isn`t just one, they are happening all the time now. All week long, doesn`t matter what you are doing , one can come at any time. We call them aftershocks as you know, but some I think are new earthquakes in different areas of Japan, that were triggered by all the shaking of the first "trembler."

Then you will be somewhere and the shaking starts up big time, and you think uh oh! This is another big one! Then it dies off. Your heart is still racing. Your blood pressure is still up. I imagine a lot of older people are dying these days, simply from the stress of it all.

It will wake you up in your sleep, and scare you on the train or while walking down the street under tall buildings and overhead power poles. It is a bit of a nightmare.

It is a challenge to keep your spirits up, but we all must try as soon things will settle down and we will get back to normal.

So I hung out there in Yokohama and tried to determine if I would be able to get home--one hour south by train. As the day wore on, I realized I had better find a place to stay for the night that was safe. No one seemed to know much at first. All the lines were down.

Then slowly people knew more. I was able to find out the quake was way up north. So I imagined it must have been huge.

I was really worried about my kids and my wife. After I had survived I was happy, but then my thoughts turned to them. I tried to keep it together until I could contact them.

Two hours later I was able to use a land line phone in a hotel and I could contact both my daughter and son, then my wife who happened to be with my other son, in the coastal city of Odawara.

Then my next worry was a Tsunami hitting Odawara. Funny I never worried about a tsunami hitting me in Yokohama, another harbour city. I was in shock and not thinking all that clearly. I was running on adrenalin.

Happy to be alive! Hope to continue with that for many years to come! Two of my lunch mates made it home that day, another one also spent a cold night in a hotel lobby.

We got off easy compared to those in Tohoku.

This is yet another wake up call for you in the Northwest of North America, who also face something like this at some point in the future. Get your water ready and secure your furniture as best you can.

Not to scare you, but it is always better to be as prepared as possible. One thing I realized was that we didn`t have a set family plan on contacting each other and where we would meet.

It is important to have such a plan in place.

I went to Yokohama Stadium where they were showing very limited news about what had happened.
I couldn`t discern anything about Tohoku, it seemed to be about Yokohama and Chiba area. I think
they weren`t really sure exactly about what happened up North as it was devastated at that point. Maybe no one could make contact up until a few hours later. Either that or they were trying to keep us calm.

I talked with some Americans who were staying high up in the Washington Hotel. They spoke
of being bounced around in the shower and bounced around in their room. They could laugh about it, but they were clearly shaken by it.

Then unfortunately the media took over, creating a circus of rumors and falsities and scared people around the world. The news in Japan and the news in North America
varied greatly. The news out of Japan was more measured,
in depth and calm.

Some felt the Japanese were hiding things or sugar coating. I feel they just were trying not to Fox News us. They were avoiding hype and trying to explain things in a measured way. With the world watching it is difficult to pull the wool over everyone`s eyes.

(The earthquake as it was in Yokohama)

I commend NHK for that, and Yokoso Japan as well.

I have bolted down our furniture as best I can. I have a full tank of gas, and my wife and I do our best to take
care of our three children in the midst of rolling blackouts and staggered train schedules, and hysterical friends who have watched the "news" in their countries.

Tough to have to reassure friends abroad as well as deal
with all of this here.

(This was the March, 2011 Earthquake in Japan but in Yokohama. It was over 6.0 in Yokohama. It
was 9.0 up North.)

If you want to help Japan? Donate. But more than that,come for a visit in a few years, when things have died down. It is a great place, and doesn`t get visited often enough. Forget Hawaii, California or Mexico. Come and visit Japan! See somewhere different and support these very, very courageous people!

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