Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake

You've most likely heard about the large earthquake that hit Japan yesterday. It was far away from here, but I still felt it.

During 6th period, the 1st grade students (middle school 7th grade in the US) were playing dodge ball and I joined in. We were in the gym and there have been many times in the gym that I've thought for a second that there was an earthquake. The floor shakes in there even from people just walking. So with about 40 students running around, the floor was doing plenty of shaking already.

The ball was thrown towards me, but I'm terrible at catching, so I dropped it and was out. I ran over to the sidelines and stood there. Once I was standing still, I noticed that the floor was kind of sliding back and forth, but thought it wasn't too unusual since I've falsely thought there were earthquakes before. But it kept going, and it was too regular to just be shaking caused by running. Plus, it was like sliding, not shaking. But no one else was reacting so I thought I was maybe just imagining it.

Then one of my teammates caught the ball and I got to join back in the game. I ran over to my team and took my place under the basketball goal. I noticed that the same rocking motion was happening over there and looked up at the basketball net. It was swaying back and forth. I thought maybe a ball had just hit it or something, but the swaying didn't slow down. A couple students looked over at me staring at the basketball net and not paying attention to the game. Then they yelled, "Jishin!" which means, "Earthquake!"

By the time all the students realized what was going on, it was already over. Several students didn't feel it at all. We all sat down on the floor and then were told to go outside. We gathered outside for like a minute and then returned to the gym and continued playing dodge ball.

After 6th period I headed back to the teachers' room and everyone was talking about the earthquake. It had been a lot more noticeable to the teachers sitting at their desks.

Then it was cleaning time and like usual, I helped the students mop the entryway. By the time that was done and got back in the teachers' room, many people were gathered in front of the TV. I couldn't understand a whole lot of what was being said, so I got online to check out where the epicenter of the earthquake was. When I saw the map, I was shocked!


The earthquake covered almost all of Japan and there was even a pink dot representing Intensity 7, the highest on the Japanese scale.

Here's a map zoomed in on Shizuoka prefecture.


I'm on the peninsula sticking out on the right. Toi is on the west coast. Toi was recorded as intensity 2, but the area north of here was a 3 and the area just south was a 4.

Pretty soon the news started showing footage of the terrible tsunami rushing across the land. It was so sad.

Most of the coast of Japan was put under a tsunami warning or advisory. A 3 meter tsunami was predicted for this area. I know where the 3 meter tsunami signs are in the town so I knew that a 3 meter tsunami would go quite a ways into the town. I was advised to stay at school because even though the school is closer to the ocean (about half a mile away) it's stronger and taller than my apartment.

The town kept making announcements and sirens kept going off. The teachers were all running around and I was kind of lost about what was going on. Then my company called me and advised me to get to higher ground. I went up to the third floor, but the teachers who were up there went back down soon after I got up there. I stayed up there for a few minutes watching the ocean and then went back to the staff room.

I ended up staying at school until about 8 pm. When I got home there was still a tsunami warning, but it seemed that the biggest danger had passed since the town hadn't turned on the sirens for several hours.

I didn't sleep very well last night. I fell asleep quickly, but I kept waking up. Around 4 in the morning my cell phone was making a crazy siren-like noise. I looked at it and it had a message saying, "Earthquake Early Warning." I sat there for a little while, but felt nothing. I got on the computer to see the earthquake map. I think the warning was sent out when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit around Nagano. The areas north and south of Toi registered at an intensity 1 (barely felt), but Toi didn't show up on the map.

It was hard to fall asleep after that, but when I did, I was woken up by another alarm around 6:30 (maybe? I'm not sure). Again, I felt nothing. I got online and no major earthquakes were showing up on the map so I attempted to go back to sleep.

A little while later, I was sorta woken up by "Piano Man" playing over the town message system. Yes, seriously. My town sometimes plays songs before making announcements. All the other announcements since the earthquake just had a chime that played before the announcement, but this one was special for some reason. But I don't know what was special about it because the only word I understood was "tsunami."

So that was my experience with the earthquake. I had wanted to feel an earthquake since I had never felt one before, but I never wanted anything like this. I wanted to feel about the intensity that I felt but for that to be the worst of it. Unfortunately, it was much much worse in a wide area of Japan.

My going away party with a few of the teachers (They were very nice to plan a separate party for me just because I can't make it to the main enkai next weekend.) was canceled last night. I had also planned on going to Tokyo this weekend, but I canceled that as well. The trains were back up and running this morning (well, at least the ones within Tokyo), but I figured that it was best just to stay away with all the chaos yesterday and continuing aftershocks. But even though my plans were messed up, I don't mind because I know the situation is much worse for so many people. Please keep Japan in your thoughts and prayers!

4 comments:

  1. Excellent post about the earthquake on the edges. Praying for you and Japan! <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Konnichiwa Jenna,

    I was searching for info on the quake in Shizuoka today and found your blog. I was the ALT in Shizuoka ages ago! and my best friend was the ALT in Toi! I've been to all the places you blog about! I wonder if we have taught with the same teachers. They all get transfered around the area.

    I'd love to hear from you. Glad everyone in Shizuoka is OK. What's happening is like a disaster horror film, but it's real.

    Odaijini!
    Lynne (lynnechan@yahoo.com)

    ReplyDelete
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