As you may have heard, the largest earthquake in its 140 years of recorded earthquakes has struck the north eastern part of the main island of Honshu.
Since the quake struck at 14:46 yesterday afternoon, I’ve been posting my reactions and any updates I can think of on Twitter and Facebook, which for many hours after the quake, were the only reliable means of communication.
You can follow my trains of thought there: http://twitter.com/#!/StageRabbit and http://www.facebook.com/Woolner
One of the more dramatic photos from the tsunami that followed the quake. [Not my house]
There was a false alarm that I might be interviewed by the cbc, but once I informed them that the most trying part of the experience was going eight hours without a heated toilet seat, they smiled politely and backed away. So I thought I’d do the interview myself:
Q. Where were you and what were you doing when the quake occurred?
A. I was at the kitchen table, eating half of my lunch. The other half was in the toaster oven. The house started rocking, and I froze. Imagine a rabbit raising his head and cocking his ears. That was me gauging the seriousness of the tremor, as I think all of us here have learned to do. After about 10 seconds of rocking (the house felt like it was rocking back and forth, south to north), it seemed to be intensifying, so I pushed out my chair and ducked under the table. My back was to the south wall of the house, which, as the quake went on, I could feel thumping into my back.
I felt like I was on a boat, not in a house, and the shaking seemed to go on forever. I’d left my laptop sitting on the table, and I tried to make a grab for it, but couldn’t get a good angle.
I heard something fall and smash in the living room.
The shaking subsided, and I grabbed my laptop and went to check the living room. While doing so, a light shaking started, so I moved on to the genkan, put on my shoes and got out of the house, where I met up with my neighbours.
I had only been wearing a T-shirt when the quake hit, so it was a little cold, but I didn’t take the time to grab my jacket.
Q. Is that what you should do? Run out into the street?
A. No, probably not. But after riding the rough seas in my house, my instincts were screaming at me to get out. However, I was probably more likely to get hurt by falling debris (ceramic roof tiles, etc.) out there than I was to be hurt under my kitchen table. However, at this time, no one had any idea what was happening, and I didn’t trust my house not to come down around my ears.
Q. What did your neighbours think of the situation?
A. They’re all old Japanese men, so very hard to fluster. We discovered quickly that power in the whole area was out. I was actually the news source for the first 15 minutes or so. I’d tethered my laptop to my phone and was able to check the news while everyone else was still looking for his battery-powered radio. I felt inordinately proud to be the one to break the news that the quake was in the northeast and measured 8.9 [note: since upgraded to 9.0].
Q. Did you eventually go back into the house?
A. Eventually. I had to: it was getting insanely windy. But I rode out the second aftershock (biiiig one) on the steps outside my house, crouched down and chatting with a neighbour. The aftershocks were reasonably strong and coming so frequently, that every time I went back into the house, I got scared out of it again.