This morning I didn’t need a 6am wake up call. Mother Nature decided to rattle the earth with a M7.4 off the coast of Fukushima. In Tokyo it wouldn’t have been much more than a M4.0. Still it was one of those long and low quakes. Enough to trigger tsunami warnings although only likely to be 140cm in height at the peak versus the 1,700cm during the Great East Japan Disaster when the quake hit M9.0. We’ve had quite a few rattlers recently and the memory banks default to what happened leading up to the massive quake of March 11, 2011. Eerily similar although I couldn’t quantify it. It’s an instinct.
On that day I was on the 20th floor with my then colleagues and the mind has little capability to comprehend the dynamics. Of course the idea of a building swaying from side to side 3m each way just doesn’t make sense – why isn’t it collapsing? The metal groans, the plasterboard cracks and the brain is racing to put it all into perspective. The weird thing is that it wasn’t so much scary but unfathomable. I mean you don’t have time to comprehend what is going on around you. The adrenaline is pumping so fast that survival instinct kicks in. It was only after that I had a far more acute awareness of the power of quakes.
Of course for those who were caught in the thick of it – that was a completely different story. The force of the tsunami (which isn’t a wave but a wall of water) that was 17m high just wiped everything out of the way. A few months later I rode up to the disaster zone to get a truer understanding of just what those people went through. Speechless. Here are some photos. Cars washed on top of 3 story buildings, huge boats washed in land. Minnie Mouse perhaps spoke of how horrible it all was.
This quake taught me a lot about the stoicism of Japan. The people here united, bonded together and set to help each other rebuild. People didn’t go into convenience stores and buy 30 drinks. They bought one. Only what was absolutely necessary. They marched home in single file in pretty much complete peace and order.
On the bright side, Fukushima nuclear plant is said to be stable (at this point).