Sanriku Earthquake +5 Days

Yesterday I decided that, since it would take as long to get on the slow-running trains, I'd try riding my bike to work. I've never done this before, but Google Directions gave me a distance of about 21 km, which I figured I could cover in an hour and a bit.


Part of the reasoning was my plan to bring a sleeping bag and mat to the office, and there was no way I'd get these onto a crowded train. I was supposed to have a power outage from 6:20-10:00 p.m., and given that I have an electrical combination lock on my door, I was basically going to be locked out when I got home anyway.


I put my info into Google and let it plan my route, getting printouts of the overall course and a few detailed shots of areas I wasn't clear on. Then I lost the map on the way. Following the signs and a bit of intuition, I made it in an hour and a half anyway.


It was about an hour after I arrived that discovered that at the same time the Fukushima Power Plant had been a little bit more active than usual. I felt a bit silly going out to shake off my jacket and pants despite being 200 km from the shake-things-off zone, but it made me feel better.


They added a 30 km no-fly zone around the reactor. I've lost track of what happened when exactly. Things got a lot worse, then they got a little better, then there wasn't really a lot of information. Word from officials is that levels ouside of the immediate area aren't harmful to health. But the workers are now being periodically evacuated. It's up and down.


People in Tokyo seem to be dividing into two camps about this: "You'll experience the same amount of radiation on a flight home" and "I'm getting on a flight home." Some people are digging in their heels and sticking around, doomsday prophets be damned. Some are just heading further west. A Japanese friend asked, "Why are all the foreigners leaving? The Japanese people aren't leaving."


My parents called twice to urge me to come home. I wasn't worried until they called. Then I started to worry about making them worried. It took a few hours to get my head back.


In the end, the power outage never came to my area anyway.


At 3:00 in the morning I fielded a call from a Japanese guy who had information on a person with whom we hadn't been able to make contact. Made me feel like there had been a reason for me being here after all.


He also reported that in Kamaishi, Iwate, the JSDF has phones set up, but there's a 3-hour line. You get one minute for one call. If the other side doesn't pick up, get back in line. My contact speculated that people up there probably do not know about the Fukushima reactor yet.


I got about two hours' sleep last night. My plan had been to truck it out in the office again tonight, but it's 7:20, nobody's going home, and I'm ready to crash. I just asked my boss to get me a hotel.

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