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Earthquake.....

Goldiegirl

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My bones still aren't settled and I am back on terra firma. I may have to go back to Japan the first week of August...I just don't feel safe anymore. My in-laws kept trying to reassure me by saying that you just never know when it's your time, just live your life. How? How do you get past that. I was truly shaken to core of my existence. I had a headache for 2 days and couldn't concentrate. All I could think of was escape routes and if the ground was moving or if it was just my heart beating. I honestly felt close to some kind of hysterical breakdown. Everyone said that it was because it was the first big earthquake I was in and that you get over it. Maybe they are right. I guess that I will have to get past this fear somehow. I can say that I feel better about earthquakes in the country side versus in Tokyo.
 

bakaKanadajin

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Actually GoldieGirl, aside from a few poorly constructed mansions and condos which will be retrofitted since the architects have been arrested and their corner-cutting exposed, most of Tokyo is fairly safe I'd imagine. The anti-earthquake technology in Japan is among the best. I'd be really scared to envision the same earthquake happening in Russia where nuclear power plants and structures in general are in quite a state of disrepair. Japan's nuclear plants do have a reputation but, knock on wood, they did manage to safely shutdown this time and whichever way you look at it these are results to be happy about.

Ironically it's usually the wide open, skyscraper-less countryside areas that suffer the greatest during earthquakes. Look at places like Iran and Pakistan, the villages there usually experience an extremely high casuality percentage. The buildings in any rural area are small and not constructed of as much steel, due to their relative size they simply aren't suitable for some of the current earthquake-proofing technology. Villages and small towns are usually flattened outright.

Japan also learned alot from Kobe in 1995. The observance and subsequent study of liquifaction during that earthquake (settling and compacting of the earth and resulting separation and rising of groundwater) as well as improvements on previous safety measures have benefited Japan as a whole. Simple things like securing large pieces of furniture to the wall and using simple cabinet door-catching mechanisms will result in fewer crushing deaths and crush-related injuries.

If 'the big one' hits you're really screwed wherever you are, but I'd honestly rather be in a built-up area with tons of services and safety measures rather than somewhere isolated. Chances are you would survive and following the earthquake there are further considerations like water, a nearby airport, hospitals, etc. The breakdown and re-establishment of social services after Kobe is also quite marvelous, a far cry from New Orleans.
 

Uncle Frank

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Not to make you feel bad.....

My bones still aren't settled and I am back on terra firma. I may have to go back to Japan the first week of August...I just don't feel safe anymore. My in-laws kept trying to reassure me by saying that you just never know when it's your time, just live your life. How? How do you get past that. I was truly shaken to core of my existence. I had a headache for 2 days and couldn't concentrate. All I could think of was escape routes and if the ground was moving or if it was just my heart beating. I honestly felt close to some kind of hysterical breakdown. Everyone said that it was because it was the first big earthquake I was in and that you get over it. Maybe they are right. I guess that I will have to get past this fear somehow. I can say that I feel better about earthquakes in the country side versus in Tokyo.

I would say you are in far greater danger today while flying. From what I see on the news everyday, I'd rather be in an earthquake than an airplane. You do get used to earthquakes. In the Aleutian islands we had an earthquake about every 3 weeks on average. I got to the point I would sleep through them, knowing my barracks was designed to handle them. Trust those around you, there are worse things to worry about. Easier said than done, try to enjoy life and not worry.

Uncle Frank

:)
 

Mike Cash

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I caught a bit of the NHK 7pm news this evening before leaving work.

It seems that despite having drawn up emergency contingency plans, including the stockpiling by local governments of emergency rations, at least some of the towns never quite got around to actually putting the plans into effect.

Kashiwazaki, for example, had a plan calling for the stockpiling of 7,600 bottles (size unspecified in report) of water....and only 600 were on hand, even though the plan was three years old and, as Mars Man pointed out, it wasn't all that long ago the area suffered a similarly devastating quake. They had stockpiled rice, but failed to give any thought as to how they were going to cook it in the absence of water, which is a major problem there now.

Another nearby town had no food stockpiled, with the town office folks saying they had counted on asking JA (the farmers' cooperative) to hook them up. A representative of the local JA said that no one from the town had ever talked to them about such a notion and they had nothing set aside for emergencies.

Despite the earthquake-prone nature of Japan, government on all levels has traditionally displayed an alarming lack of preparation for and ineptitude in dealing with emergencies when they happen.
 

KirinMan

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Despite the earthquake-prone nature of Japan, government on all levels has traditionally displayed an alarming lack of preparation for and ineptitude in dealing with emergencies when they happen.

Which really isnt all that suprising considering the bureaucracy and speed of actually getting anything done here. It is often, imo, similar to shutting the barn door after the horse along with the rest of the farm has run away before any positive action is taken.
 

Pachipro

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Get Used To It!

Goldiegirl said:
My in-laws kept trying to reassure me by saying that you just never know when it's your time, just live your life. How? How do you get past that.

For those who have never experienced an earthquake, it can be a mind numbing and traumatic experience.

Well, Goldiegirl, you are living in and come from Wisconsin right? What about a tornado? What if you were caught on a highway or in a mall or out in the open when one hit? You may be killed or you might survive. What if, in the winter, a blizzard hit in Wisconsin and a car swerved out of control and smashed into your car head on or hit you while walking? It can happen as much as being killed in an earthquake.

You never know when your time will come and it's best not to think about it or it will drive you crazy. When I was living in Japan in the 80's a 7.2 hit the Yokohama area and I was teaching on the first floor of my 5 room "mansion" (condo) of five floors. I thought for sure "this was it" as the shaking was so severe. We all went under the desks and there was no damage.

Imagine teaching English to a group of bankers on the 10th floor of a skyscraper and, while you are teaching, you are facing the window and the skyline of Tokyo. Suddenly, you feel nothing, but as you look out the window you see the skyline swerving severely from side to side! If that doesn't scare the hell out of you and make you leave Japan nothing will. It's just something you learn to live with.

As bakaKandajin said above, the earthquake proofing in Japan is among the best in the world and you will probably survive a major quake as Uncle Frank also mentioned.

I survived many a quake during my 16 yrs in Japan and took it as a way of life. Soon you get used to it and don't even give it a second thought. However, it is always in the back of your mind when you feel the earth shake. "Is this the big one?", you think. It will always be there and never leave you.

You just have to learn to accept it because you could return to your "safe" home of Wisconsin one day and be killed by a drunk driver or someone who decides to mug you in broad daylight. Does that make you fear going out to the movies, the mall or a restaurant? Probably not. You should feel the same way about Japan her earthquakes.

As your in-laws tried to tell you, "when it's your time, it's your time" no matter where you are. I firmly believe in that philosophy.

Good luck and don't think about it!
 

Mikawa Ossan

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My bones still aren't settled and I am back on terra firma. I may have to go back to Japan the first week of August...I just don't feel safe anymore. My in-laws kept trying to reassure me by saying that you just never know when it's your time, just live your life. How? How do you get past that.
I agree with Pachipro's response to this. Earthquakes are very dramatic, but they are like tornadoes, lightning, 'black ice', freezing rain and a whole slew of natural baddies. You just live with them because they won't go away for you or anyone else.

I, too, and from Wisconsin originally, and I used to be petrified of earthquakes. I used to think that the whole state of California was wacko for living in such an earthquake-prone area. Now I live in Japan, crazy me.

Everyone said that it was because it was the first big earthquake I was in and that you get over it. Maybe they are right. I guess that I will have to get past this fear somehow. I can say that I feel better about earthquakes in the country side versus in Tokyo.
I agree with them, but I'll bet you didn't have the benefit of experiencing several smaller earthquakes before that big one. If that was your first earthquake period, then you were truly unfortunate. Most earthquakes are so small you can't even feel them. There's usually about a dozen such earthquakes in Japan a day.

All I can say is that after a while, if you're like me, when an earthquake starts, you get in the habit of bracing yourself to see if it's going to be a big one or just another small one. It's almost always a small one. When the big ones do come, you just do what you can. In days past, the quake itself wasn't nearly as destructive as the fires that accompanied them. Consider yourself lucky to live in an age where people use much less wood in their construction materials.

As for where to be when a quake hits, I would actually rather be in Tokyo. I would want to happen to be in a modern high-rise building. I wouldn't want to be driving, though. That's for sure. I've done that, and I don't like it!
 

Sarapva

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I've been in a few earthquakes in Alaska (and even one here in VA a few years ago, 4.6), but none as big as a 6.8. If I'm right in remembering, with each higher number on the Richter scale the earthquake's strength is 10 times stronger. Let Goldiegirl be afraid of big earthquakes! Sometimes a person is afraid of one thing, like an earthquake, and not another, like a tornado. It depends on what you're used to. I don't think Goldiegirl was afraid of dying (correct me, Goldiegirl, if I'm wrong).

I think a person in any situation where there is a chance of getting hurt or killed will have strong reactions and feel psychologically off balance, to say the least. It's a similiar thing with war veterans and post-traumatic stress syndrome, where you're in a situation where you could get killed, even if you're not thinking of getting killed. Sometimes people don't even have a reaction until afterwards, but then they're more sensitive to everything afterwards, which seems like an overreaction to others but is actually common.
 
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