Now before I start I should say that this is ‘my story’ and it in no way compares to the horrors seen in Sendai. Friday is usually my day off but today I was doing a cover shift in one of my schools. At about 2.50 pm I was coming to the end of a lesson and I had the students doing some pairwork exercise when they started to make noises and mentioned the word earthquake (no more than that as they were quite low-level students).
As there had been a couple of quakes in the days before that I’d not even noticed, I was pretty blasé about this one. However, it really shook the room more than anything I’ve ever experienced with things falling off shelves and so on. I still wasn’t taking it so seriously but decided to go downstairs from my position on the sixth floor where the streets were quite busy with people who had evacuated their buildings.
Over the following couple of hours there were many sizable aftershocks which sent a ripple through the school including a lesson between five and six pm with four 10 year old kids. They even got under the table for protection at one stage which is what you’re often advised to do in such a situation.
The last few lessons were cancelled and I left to take the train home but the station was closed as indeed were all stations in the region. I went back to the school where luckily the school manager had a car to take myself and my colleague James to a nearby station (which took over an hour despite only being a short distance away) where I then walked for 15 minutes to the station where my bicycle was parked.
It was only when I cycled home that I began to realise the extent of the situation (for there was no TV at work) as the streets were absolutely full of Japanese workers walking home long distances. I learned that I had got off pretty lightly. I tried to get some food at the convenience stores but they were all empty of bento boxes (meal sets) so I had to settle for a pot noodle.
I hadn’t even given my apartment much thought but when I walked in it was a bit of a bomb site (difficult to tell from the picture below) and as if the place had been tipped on its side. Stuff on the shelves was littering the floor but there was no real damage although I did later notice a few fairly big cracks in the walls, particularly under the window frame which was being hidden by my curtains. Even as I write this 10 hours after the original quake the room is still shaking almost constantly (albeit only very slightly) with a bigger shake occurring every 15 minutes or so.
As I watch the rolling news of this catastrophe on CNN I see the devestation that this 8.9 magnitude quake has caused and is indeed still causing. Horrific stuff. Thanks for all the messages of concern and please know that I am safe, well and in good spirits. It is way worse for many out there who are stranded and stuck in offices or on the streets for the night. I wish them all well.