Thursday, July 24, 2008

Apparently a big deal

Around 12:30am I woke up when I felt the ground shaking and things rumbling. (It was rather ironic, actually, since it was probably the one time this week when I was actually in bed by 12:30am.) It was an earthquake, and one considerably greater in strength and longer in duration than the last one I felt. As I lay in bed, I wondered if I should be getting up and standing in a doorway or hiding under a table, but in the end I decided to stay put. When it finished, I went back to sleep.

Then around 2am I received a bunch of text messages from fellow Towada and neighbouring Shichinohe ALTs about the earthquake. I got up and dashed off a reply, but when I went back to check the time the messages were sent, I saw that they had all been sent shortly after the earthquake, between 12:45 and 1:00am! Guess the keitai networks were congested with everyone calling people to check up on them or to tell them that they were OK.

When I got to the office, Mukainakano-sensei was on the phone with Andy. He was at Hachinohe to catch a train to Tokyo (to fly to Canada), but shinkansen service had been canceled, so they had to arrange for him to get a flight to Haneda Airport from Misawa. CRAZY! Apparently the trains were stopped until 4pm (way too late for him to catch his flight). I would never have imagined such a thing happened! And I sincerely hope that such a thing won't happen again next Friday, when I'm going to Tokyo for my flight home. ^^;;

Anyway, mid-morning we also felt some aftershocks at the office. It was really short, though, so we didn't have time to even think about doing anything in response.

We were only in the office in the morning, then we went to Towada JHS to help students with speech contest practice. Afterwards I ran a bunch of errands, dropped my car off for shaken (mandatory bi-annual car maintenance), and went to Japanese dance class.

When I finally checked my email (~9pm) I saw a bunch of messages regarding the earthquake. My Japanese friend Yukiko who is currently on a working holiday in Japan sent me and the other Towada/Shichinohe ALTs an email to see if we were OK, and I also had another email from the Canadian Embassy. Then, maybe 5 minutes after I replied to the (Canadian Embassy) email to say that I was OK, I got a call on my keitai from the Canadian Embassy making sure I was OK!


I never thought I'd be so blasé about earthquakes, but so long as nothing in my place gets damaged and I'm not injured, I guess the severity just doesn't register with me. I mean, it had a (preliminary) magnitude of 6.8 and triggered landslides and power outages in various cities, but thankfully Towada seems to have been mostly unaffected.

So yeah, if you want to read more about the earthquake, here's an AP article.