By David F. Rooney
Leslie Ann Gurley, a Revelstokian living in Japan says that she is safe and uninjured after Friday’s 8.9 earthquake and tsunami.
“I am currently working at a junior high school teaching English to all the students,” she said in an e-mail to The Current. “On Friday, the students were practicing their singing for the graduation ceremony that will be held on Tuesday. Since I can’t sing very well, I stayed in the teachers’ room to get caught up on marking and making worksheets. About 2:45 I started to feel really dizzy… I thought it was just from being tired and staring at a blank page on my screen for too long. Then I noticed that my tea was sloshing about in my mug. As I was pondering what was really happening, a PTA member asked the vice-principal if he could feel the shaking. Sure enough, I thought, a Friday-afternoon earthquake. We don’t get many in my area so I expected it to stop quickly. It didn’t. After about 30 seconds a buzzer went off to warn us that there was an earthquake. No one did anything. I remained at my desk for the full two-minute duration. By this time I was feeling motion sick (a rarity for me) and knew it had to be a big one.”
As everyone now knows this was a monster quake. The biggest in modern Japanese history and the fifth largest since scientists began measuring earthquakes and keeping records in 1900.
“As soon as the shaking stopped, the TV was flicked on and we could see the Earthquake and Tsunami alerts… that fast!” Leslie Ann said. “It was crazy! We watched the live coverage of the tsunamis pouring… through the northern cities and the fires breaking out in Tokyo. I realized then, that even though it was hardly felt in my town, that a good chunk of Japan was in disaster mode.”
Living in Hikone, which is on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, for three years, she immediately wanted to contact her family, who were relieved to hear she was fine.
“Through the day I have had many people contact me through Facebook and e-mail to ensure my safety,” Leslie Ann said. “I am very happy for the support of everyone and am even happier that I am lucky enough to not need it. The next few days and weeks will be tough on Japan and support from friends, family and fellow citizens will help lift everyone’s spirits…
“I hope that everyone who has loved ones in Japan will hear from them soon and be able to support them for their trying days ahead.”
Social media such as Facebook once again proven themselves to be valuable tools during this most recent calamity.
One of my younger brothers — Tim — lives in Tokyo with his wife Elaine and their youngest son, Daniel. After the quake Elaine swiftly contacted everyone in Canada to let them know they were okay.
“Oh my, I never felt anything like that before,” she said. “I was on an elevated highway when the car started wobbling around. I finally managed to turn around and head home — it took 2 1/2 hours! Things in Tokyo look OK, but there definitely will be some damage. OMG, the room is still shaking as I write this!!! Tim walked home from the office. Daniel was held at school until the roads were confirmed OK. He is on his way home but the estimate that it could take the buses a couple of hours to come back into the city.”
If you know someone in Japan but cannot contact them you may be able to find information through Google’s Crisis Response Page, which contains all the latest information on the earthquake and tsunami as well as a People Finder tool specifically for this disaster.
“Canadians who believe that they have Canadian friends or family who may be affected to call the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at 613-944-2471 (613-943-1055), or toll free within Canada at 1-800-606-5499 (or 1-800-387-3124), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Canadians in the area should contact and reassure their loved ones, even if they have not been affected by this event.
“Canadian citizens in Japan requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo at 011-81-3-5412-6200, or call DFAIT’s Emergency Operations Centre collect at 613-944-2471 (or 613-996-8885). An email can also be sent to email@example.com.”