Relief for Ruth as friends report safely
BRAY WOMAN Ruth Archbold was very anxious for friends living in Tokyo when she saw the news of the disaster unfolding on Friday morning.
‘Even though I could see the wave washing away the houses on the news, I didn't really take in what was happening and was more worried that people would be injured by collapsing buildings like in Christchurch. By Friday evening though, I couldn't believe how bad the situation really was.'
Ruth lived for one year in Kyoto as a student in 200/2001 and then lived in Oita Prefecture for five years, two of those in a rural village called Kakaji on the Kunisaki peninsula, and three years in a bigger city called Beppu.
‘It makes me quite upset to watch it, but also in a way I feel proud at how well the Japanese are coping under such horrific circumstances,' said Ruth on the events of the past few days. ‘I've been in earthquakes before, and it's so frightening because there's nothing you can do, just get under a doorway or table and wait until it passes.'
She returned to Japan in January of this year and spent a week in Tokyo and then 10 days in Oita.
‘ There hasn't been any affect in Oita caused by the earthquake. It's an hour and a half flight to Tokyo and even further to the area mostly affected by the earthquake and tsunami.'
However, there were early fears that a tsunami would hit the region. ‘ My New Zealand friend lives in a coastal town called Kunimi, also on the Kunisaki peninsula. She collected her two children from playschool early as it's very close to the sea.'
The same friend has an emergency bag packed with passports, food and other supplies, and has told her children what to do in dif- ferent situations if the quake hits.
For example if it's night time her eldest child, who is four, knows he should climb down from his bunk bed and get under it with his little sister, who is two.
‘All of my friends on Kyushu have said that even for them it is very surreal. There is no effect for them at all, and it's strange to turn on the news and know that in another part of Japan people have no food or water or place to stay.'
Once Ruth arrived in work on Friday morning, she was able to establish very quickly that everyone she knew in Japan was alright. Most people had updated their status on Facebook and she chatted with a friend, who works at the Australian Embassy, on Google chat to see how things were.
‘Most people were continually updating. Another Australian friend, Tash's husband, had to walk 35km from Shinawawa in central Tokyo to try to get to his Yokohama home. She was updating his whereabouts.' Trains began to run again in Yokohama so he was able to catch one of those, but still had to walk over 20km. Ruth's friend in the Australian embassy had to sleep there that night or face a five hour walk home. ‘It made me grateful for Facebook and the internet,' she said. ‘All my friends were accounted for almost as soon as I logged on.' She also knows some Japanese people living in the UK, who have been in touch to say that their families are safe and well. One girl with whom she went to college is from Fukushima, where there are fears surrounding the nuclear plant. Her family have food and water and have managed to get petrol for their cars.
However, convenience stores and supermarkets have run out of food leading to chaotic scenes.
At the moment most people are experiencing power cuts and water shortages. Since the nuclear reactors aren't working properly it seems that they are trying to conserve energy with rolling powercuts, so each area has a scheduled black out for a few hours every day.