Here in Niigata, Good Squid is in good shape. We experienced some scary shaking during the big one that hit at 2:46PM yesterday and since then there have been intermittent aftershocks. They just keep rumbling through but they are not bad like the one yesterday. Mrs. Squid and I were at the local shopping center in line for lunch when the shaking started. We ran out of the building and the shaking continued for at least a minute. The cars in the parking lot were shaking back and forth. Usually the quakes just last 15 seconds or so but this one went on for a looooong time. We knew that it must have been a bad one because of how long it lasted. A few days prior to the big one, there was a moderate one in the same area that produced a 50cm tsunami. There has been seismic activity around Sendai all week and I guess it finally culminated yesterday.
Here's a snapshot from the TV yesterday around 4:00PM. That map in the corner is talking about the tsunami warnings. Red means a significant one will hit and purple means that a smaller one will hit. Niigata is in the yellow area on the west coast on the Sea of Japan. Yellow is just an advisory, not a warning, and it means a small one might hit. I think we got one only a few centimeters high.
All the stock here at Good Squid is in good shape - nothing fell off shelves, nothing tipped over, no fires or anything! As far as I know, postal service here is still OK but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some delays for the first week at least. I think all bullet train service in Honshu is suspended and some highways are shut down. It will be a while before everything is back to normal.
Watching the devastation on TV is reminiscent of watching TV on September 11th, 2001. Everyone is in shock calling their friends and loved ones, making sure they are safe. It wasn't all that dramatic until the video of the tsunamis started being shown. That's when it really started to sink in. The big damage was along the northeastern coast - that's where you see the tsunamis rolling in and absolutely wiping out port and fishing villages. Japan is a very mountainous country so most of these coastal cities are near mountains. After feeling the strength of the quake, most people in the area fled for the hills knowing that a tsunami was imminent. Coastal towns also have siren systems in place which warns people to get to higher ground. Prime Minister Kan is going around disaster areas putting people at ease as much as he can. Rescue workers, firemen, etc are all working hard and doing their best to help those in need. There is a lot of concern about the nuclear power plants and I'll feel better when those problems get worked through. It has been a crazy 24 hours and hard to think about anything else.
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