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Japan Earthquake, Diary From Sendai (Part III)

Japan Earthquake, Diary From Sendai (Part III)

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Published by Braven Smillie
The third installment in a series recounting my family's experience in Sendai, Japan, during and after the recent earthquake.
The third installment in a series recounting my family's experience in Sendai, Japan, during and after the recent earthquake.

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Published by: Braven Smillie on Mar 16, 2011
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05/12/2011

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DiaryfromSendai,Japan(PartIII)
March11,2011
byBravenSmillie
 
 
 
DamagedroadsinSendai( source)
AsImetmychildrenontheschoolplaygroundwheretheyhadevacuatedafterthequake,Itriedtosplitmytimebetweenseven-year-oldElenaandten-year-oldChristina.ButIsoonrealizedthatElenaneededmoreimmediatecare.AndIwasstartingtofeelthebiteofthebitterchillaftergivingElenamyjacket.“Don'tYOUstartshaking,Daddy!”shesaidatonepointasIshiveredfromthecold.“Wecan,butyoucan't.”Iheldontoherforawhile,partlyjusttokeepwarm,thenlefttocheckonChristina.Tinahadjoinedasquattinggroupofclassmateswhowerehuggingandencouragingeachotherinanimprovisedscrum.Forthefirstofwhatwouldbe
 
manytimesinthecomingdays,IheardmyselftalkinawayInevercouldhavebeforewithoutasardonicsmirk:“Ineedyoutobestrong,now,Tina.Canyoubeastrongbigsisterforme?”Herresponsewasequallynewandraw,somethingI’dhavecalled“hiiiighdrama”justanhourearlier:“Icanbestrong,Daddy.Gotoher.Ithinkshe’shavingherfirstearthquake.”IwentbacktoholdElenauntiltheteachersconfirmedthatallwerepresentandunhurt.Theythenbeganreleasingeachchildtoparents,carefullyconfirmingandmatchingfamilyidentities.Notonlydidtheteachersactinacalm,professionalmanner,buttheseamlessproceduresextendedtotheparents,whohadalsopreparedforjustsuchanevacuation.Iwasthere,I’dthought,onlybecauseChiakihappenedtohavethoughtofcheckingonthekidsbeforetheyweresenthome.Infact,she’dsentmetotheschoolasonewell-definedstepinaprocedurethatwassecondnaturetoeveryonebutme.Asthethreeofuswalkedhome,Inoticedthatmydaughters’teethwerenolongerchattering.Webegantotrytofindwaysoftalkingaboutwhathadjusthappened.Theytriedtalkingaboutthequakeastheywouldtheanticsofaclassclown,asceneinascarymovie,aboastofsomethingamazingtheywereprivyto.Itwouldn’tfitintoanyoftheusualframes.Itriedtomakethemlaugh–“Sorryaboutthequake.Don’ttellanybody,butIthinkoneofmybigsneezessetitoff.”Theywerehavingnoneofit.Itwasn’tgoingtobethateasytogetbacktonormal.WewalkedsilentlyforawhileandIrememberedthemask-like,stunnedexpressionthatallthechildrenseemedtowearduringtheevacuation.Iwantedtogetatitandfindoutwhereitcamefrom.SoIaskedthemeachwhattheysawanddid,startingfrombeforetheshaking.Initsbriefway,Elena’sstorytolditall:“Everythingwasshaking,shaking,
 
shaking!Wewentunderourdesksandpeoplewereprayingandcryingandscreaming.Andthingslikebooksandbagswerefallinglikecrazy.WewentoutsideandthenDaddycame.”Tina’sstoryrevealsmoredetail,ofpeople’sreactionstochaosandoftheevacuationstrategytakenbytheteachers:“WeweredoingmathaboutshapesanditwasFriday,andthenitshookandweonlythoughtitwasjustatinyonethatstopsimmediately.Butthenitshookfromthefloor,andalmosteverybodywascrying.Thentheteachersallopenedthedoorsandwindowssotheywouldn’tgetstuck.Andourteachersaid‘Duckdownunderyourdeskandsaveyourhead!’“Itwaslikewewereonabigboatandwewereholdingontothefeetofourdesksanditwasgoingbackandforthandbackandforth,likerowingaboat.Anditshookupanddownandsideways,soIbangedmyheadandithurt.Andeverybodywaspraying,andalltheboysweresayinginJapanese,‘It'sOK!We’resurviving.It’sOK.Wecandothis!’Andthenwhenitstoppeddowntoalittletinybit,likebetweenthebigshakes,welinedupreallyreallyfastandwerandownthestairstogetoutsidebeforeitstartedshakingbigagain.Theteachersandprincipalwerereallygood.Theywereoutinthehall,andsaying,‘Areyoustillalive,fourthgraders?You’reok!Bearwithit!You’redoingfine!’AndIdidn’tthinkiteverwouldstop.Weheardsoundsintheroadlike‘boomboom,’echoing.Ithinkthatwasthecrackswesawintheroadlater.“Thenwegotoutsideandwefeltreally,reallysafe.Andafterthat,westartedthinkingaboutourmomsanddadsandallofusstartedcrying,eventheboys.Iwasholdingontotwoofmyfriends.Wetriedtobebravebutwewereshakingalot.Iwasreallycoldandshivering,butalsobecausewewerereallyscared,andtheshakinginourmindsandinourlegswasreallyreallymakingusshake.Then

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Chapter 3 of the first person account from Japan!
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I can't imagine a much worse nightmare than this: managing through a natural disaster with two young children.
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