Those following the epic horrors playing out across the Pacific are aware that the 8.9 magnitude earthquake has been officially declared theworst catastrophe to hit Japan since World War II
Compounding the utter destruction is the race to stave off three simultaneous nuclear meltdowns, a reported 88,000 missing persons and an estimated death toll rising above 10,000.
With the largest population of Japanese Americans residing in Southern California, the emotional aftershocks hit much harder here than seismic activity. Massive blackouts and jammed phone lines have made contacting loved ones in highly affected areas extremely difficult, if not impossible, even from within Japan itself.
For those lucky enough to gain Internet access, media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google's newly launchedJapan Earthquake Person Finder
have managed to put millions of minds at ease. In addition to facilitating contact, these outlets also provide a window to real-time events and firsthand experiences from affected areas.
Takaaki Hadano, a 22-year-old man who recently spent a year at UC Berkeley as a visiting scholar before returning to Japan, provides the following account via Facebook message:
The earthquake happened around 3 p.m., and I was in my office at the business center of Tokyo called Otemachi area. I was working in front of my computer, and suddenly a big shake came. I thought that was a regular earthquake at the first 2-3 seconds, but as the shake became bigger, everyone started screaming. Since I was working on the 22nd floor, there was no way but to hide under the desk. That was really scary.
After the big one, some small ones came after. We all turned on the TV to see what the hell happened to us and [were] shocked to see the big tsunamis and fires at the northeast region of Japan on the news. Then the announcement came saying we need to go back home immediately on foot with helmets on or stay in the office for a night because all the transportation had stopped on the spot. Many of the workers stayed in the office with emergency food, water, blankets and air-blown beds. The quakes [aftershocks] came during the night occasionally.
The next morning, since the train I use had stopped until around noon, I stayed in my office until then. After I got back home by train, my bookshelves all literally collapsed and some glass photo frames were shattered on the floor.
At noon, the breaking news came in that some nuclear plants and oil plants were damaged and may radiate some nuclear and poisonous chemicals through wind and rain . . . and it's still one of the biggest ongoing concerns. Three nuclear plants are said to be damaged severely and may explode at any moment, and due to the plant damage, the electric shortage has occurred, which involves planned mass electric outage, starting from tomorrow.
Here in Tokyo, we all have everything, but Tokyo will conduct planned mass [electricity] outage from tomorrow, so the situation is real bad. I went to a supermarket to secure my family's food and water, but there was nothing in the store. [This is the] first time in my life to see empty shelves in the supermarket.
What is more, the government has officially announced that the big earthquake may happen again within 3 days at the possibility of 70%, so we are still very cautious.
As a current resident of Tokyo, Hadano assures that structural damage to the city is minimal due to strict building codes but goes on to describe the sheer chaos being experienced by his friends in the more drastically impacted northern regions of Japan. He has been told of huge ships being carried and left atop hills by the 10-meter tsunami and the widespread shortage of gas, electricity, food and water.
In the wake of the devastating aftermath of Japan's earthquake, relief efforts are being launched across the country, but resources are exhaustible and the destruction is great. Find out more about what you can do to help by exploring the following links:
And this just in: You can support and show your support for Japan disaster relief by buying a $20 T-shirt through Good Ink Clothing. The charity-based streetwear company usually donates 50 percent of sales to specified nonprofits, but owner Ali Sedaghat vows 100 percent of sales of the "Hearts to Japan" shirts will go to the 2011 Japan Earthquake Relief Fund sponsored by World Vision.
Snatch up a dozen at GoodInkClothing.com/Japan.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!