Wednesday, March 30, 2011

After the quake

You know, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed but the horrible thing that happened on September 11th. And this was also on the 11th. March 11th. Anyway here are pictures of Narita city. This was just a day or two afterward the big earthquake. As you can see and I'll try to be as descriptive as possible too. But for the most part, Narita City is fine. In tack, all in one piece. Sure there were a few here and there pieces that could be fixed but as a whole, Narita city was all there.
Signs still up, buildings and houses etc.
Cars still driving down the road and as you can see the bus, buses still ran. Gas was in short supply all around here. But aside from that, it all looked pretty normal.
Taking the roads now to get myself to my town and you can see, the countryside still looked the same too.
I'm not locking or closing any of the pics down, you can double click if you like. Houses still standing. Different areas had different outcomes I know. And this is just info for you guys wondering about where we live and what affect it had on us.
Again rails alongside a road still up. And the rice fields/tanbo still look the same.
This is the housing community where I live and according to "the boy next doors mom" Our housing community when she spoke to a town official said our housing community had zero damage. That was a relief for us all here. We had a lot to be thankful for regarding that and we know that.
Now here is the sad part.....while our housing community went unscathed and our tiny town had a slight damage to one of the bridges and 2 of the roads could use a minor patch up but that was really it for the most part for our town. We felt really lucky. Meanwhile and this is quite sad. The city Noah goes to school in. Is a completely different story. It is very very badly damaged city. So many of the roofs on the traditional Japanese style houses were cracked, shattered and broken. They are those very heavy ceramic type roofs.
When we drove through the city it was hard not to notice the blue tarps placed on top to protect from rain. It's honestly heartbreaking.

The front of this persons home damaged.
Again a tarp covering to protect from the elements and for privacy I'm sure.
Also with so much broken in the city Noah's school is in. It also was very heart warming to see how everyone came together. How everyone basically banded together and help one another. This sign on the front of a Kimono shop reads basically..."they have well water and if you need some they'll share" It was these little human acts of kindness that made me feel proud to live here.
This was 2 short days after the earthquake. All the bigger cities had stories of food shortages and they were right. Even here in the countryside/inaka. Many of the grocery stores had very little. I'm lucky in the fact that if you read my blog you'll know it's a hobby of mine to run to different shops. Many small mom and pop shops, the big meat only type shops. The jimmy dean carrying shops etc. : ) I know every grocery in my area let's put it that way. I ran to 2 big stores and they were out of mostly everything. Putting my thinking cap on, my mind raced...where??? where??? Aha! My cheap veggie shop...that store is older then a bazillion years's small. No huge signs. And sure enough I parked and food a plenty inside! Voila! Chicken brimming. And all other meats stocked. Fish and seafood a plenty. It was a virtual night and day from the 2 shops I went to before this one. I quickly made purchases. Keeping in mind....while I do stock up and buy my groceries once a week. All the fridge items were now kaput! Because of having no electricity! So, while all the pantry items were fine. All the stuff in my fridge were now thrown in trash bags and we started from scratch. I wanted to buy some food but not tons of food because of the looming fear what if the power goes out again? And everything goes rotten all over again. So, I bought enough but not enough for a week.
I usually buy my meat at another store. A cheaper store for meat. But immediately after the quake and the power went on a few days after and the stores started opening. I was here at this store. And sorta stuck. Do, I NOT buy these costlier meats and push on and look for cheaper? But then what if the cheaper store has no meat at all, which was a real possibility. And then by the time I come back to this store they've sold out??? Then what. So yeah it was too much of a gamble. With the possibility of ending up with no meat at all. I bought this chicken instead. 2 big packs of chicken breasts.
A few things started selling out at this tiny shop even. So glad I went first thing in the morning.
While I was shopping, I saw the meat man restocking the meat so it was very few meats but not all sold out like how I saw on TV in the larger cities. Again though I live in the countryside, so there's less people here. Again this is our experiences only.
1 pack of toilet paper per family. I did not buy it. I had 40 rolls at home. And if I were to buy a pack when I didn't need it...what if someone else really needed it? Do you know what I mean? So, yeah...I passed on the TP. We had enough at home. What was in short supply here even in the countryside. Was milk, eggs and bread. And water.
This persons concrete wall completely obliterated! Just in a shambles.
The damage due to liquefaction in the small city Noah goes to school in, is sadly everywhere! I wonder and worry how long it will take them to recover. I know they will recover. And I know it's not nearly as bad as Tohoku. But it's still quite a sad site. Our tiny town had no liquefaction.

It's like mud rose from beneath and the whole sidewalk just disappeared.
Here near the back of the pic near the fence you can see sidewalk just bursting and broken. A cone in the middle of the street where a giant crack now lays straight down the middle of the road.
This road, I drove down once a week. This road to get to the local DIY or to meet my friends for Mr. Donuts before we'd hit a movie. This was our road we often drove on...and now look! Completely wiped out. Again the concrete smooth road totally vanished and erased from the face of the earth and now left in it's place....just muddy sludge. And rocks. It was like...where did the road go? It was here a few days ago! Just really hard to comprehend. I guess just a shock.
This was a ground...and now it looks like a car is sitting in a lake.

Cars totalled....roads erased! Again this is nothing compared to what they face in Tohoku. Of course. But wow! This was our closest city. How long will it take to rebuild.
This is the local DIY, the structure is now bent and ripped. Is it fixable? We hope so. Just extremely sad.
Look how parts of this road just rose and split.
A wiped out erased road. And the mud sludge aftermath.
So many of my friends...yochien mom friends. And the calling tree. Info sharing....which place has gas? The Jogo-san bless her heart had all the info on that. or... psst! Which store has food still? Pssst! This is when I was so thankful for my Japanese girlfriends. I shared as much infomation as I had as they shared with me. We helped each other and info shared tons during these first few days. Every shop I went or road I drove down, I gave them information..."the road is still there" or sadly many of.... "that road was wiped out" ...this store still has toilet paper" etc etc. My birthday was March 22nd. As usual we had planned to have a little small family thing. You know...Cappriociassa and some Baskin Robbins birthday cake. Yeah that wasn't gonna happen this year unfortunately, in fact I wasn't to be in Japan at all for my birthday unfortuantely. : ( But it was the site of seeing the BR shop...while we were at the tiny mall that had the BR cakes...the store all closed down and this pic...the icecream cakes all melted beyond repair behind that glass and you can see Noah's reflection. Just literally so much destroyed. So many plans called off. Yes we were blessed that we still had our lives and our home. But yeah wow! So many of us in Chiba....our lives thrown upside down for a while too. Being in the small city that Noah goes to school really sad now. I want and wish for them to rebuild. I will shop there and put money into that little city as much as we can. Now heading back to my tiny town.....
Our town now....still looks completely undamaged. How can a tiny town be so lucky and yet our little city just 20 minutes away be such a different story? I really don't know the answer for it.
Going down a road to get myself into our housing community. All the roads as you can see are fine.
With two 2kg packs of chicken breast and 2 packs of thigh meat for Noboru. A pack of courry roux.
All the veggies we had survived the power outage but we bought a few extras anyway.
All these Hokkaido potatoes we had before the earthquake. About 6 lbs of potatoes. So we were fine food wise. Plus we did bring quite a good supply from California that I really haven't shown yet either. But we were fine.
They really were big bags of potatoes.
A case of oolong for Noboru.
I always sperate the meat and put a # of how many breasts in each...just makes things easier to find.
We also had about 5 pounds of sweet potatoes before the earthquake and I just steamed a batch every other day, so the kids munched those and Noboru loves them too. So we definitely were all set here food wise. Knock on wood. The gas stove still worked even without the power.
Power on the other hand was in short supply. So we often found ourselves without power. The TV would say your area will be without for 2 hours. So, this is when careful planning helped. I would make sure laundry was done before that "power off" time and baths and dinner would be done by then. And all would be fine. Noboru would be able to watch the news on his cell phone. And the kids could watch cartoons on the mini dvd.
One of our nights without power. We had dinner by candle light. Everyone was squeeky clean from the early showers. The kids and myself had teriyaki bowls. Noboru wanted some nabe type pot so he was enjoying that.
And after being without power for so many days you sort of get really good at thinking of ways to keep the flash light held up while everyone was still eating and use a roll of toilet paper. ; )
It definitely made things a little brighter. It was the constant power outages. The food shortages. The gas shortages. And at that time, the beginning of the nuclear reactor problems that caused us to make the decision we did.

And here are the personal sides of the earthquake.

As you know...we live in a very tiny town. A town with about 4800 people in it. So yes smaller then the Andy and Mayberry town from the Andy Griffith Show. Our town has no fast food restaurants. Our town does not even have a yochien. Which is why Noah has to go to yochien (kindy) in the city closest us. Our town has 1 drug store and has 1 grocery store. Our town does boast 2 conveience stores though. ; ) Yep 2! ; ) If you are a junior high kid and want to hang out someplace...the junior high kids in our town head to the local Mini Stop. Woo how cool. Can you imagine the the coolest thing to do in your town would be to hang out at the local Circle K? I said Circle K to get a better idea for you in America or overseas. When Branden went to yochien the only 2 kids from our town that were in that yochien were Branden and Genki. That's it. And for now....the only ones who are from our town that go to that yochien are Noah and some other kid who rides the school bus. I am mentioning this fact because....

Everyone of Noah's classmates except the other kid who lives in our town. Is from the city that was badly damaged. That is how close this has all affected the ones we know. So many of Noah's classmates are without running water as of even right now! How are they taking baths, showering? Washing clothes, flushing toilets, brushing their teeth etc etc. Also...Noah had 2 best friends that I have blogged many happy stories about them playing and swimming at swim club together. A little boy named H and a little girl named S. S's family apparantly had a beautiful and gorgeous home and now because of the earthquake it's been pushed off it's base and moved so it's no longer livable. This mom is always smiling, is always so nice and lovely. It boggles the mind that this happened to them. This lovely family we know. And they are now living elsewhere. Renting someplace or what have you. That to extremely sad. Sadder then you'll ever know. H's family (Noah very best friend) is still without water as most of Noah's classmates. The encho sensei and teachers had to walk all over the yochien to see if there was any structural damage to the yochien. No damage which is amazing considering how badly damaged that city is. But many people we know are hurting right now. After we left to Guam and Noboru went to pick up Noah's things from the yochien for next semester. He said so many of the mothers were crying. These ladies. My friends. It honestly broke my heart hearing that. I think that feeling of helplessness. Was honestly why I was in such a funk when I arrived in Guam. And why I felt that great since of sadness for most of my first week I was there. I guess seeing how many people we love, like and know personally affected. Seeing the city so torn up. All the, gas, water etc. It was just a lot to shoulder.

We have had the people of Tohoku in our hearts. And we've also had the people of the small city where Noah's yochien is our hearts too. Sadder then you'll know. So unbelievably sad. Anyway that is our experience and I wanted to share it with you all. We are leaving back to Japan this afternoon. So, I am trying my hardest to get these posts up now. I put the pics up yesterday and am now trying to put in the words, the stories. The things I wanted to share with you all.