Earthquake, wide awake

Posted by in Mike's blog

As a family, we failed at disaster-preparedness.

I spent the past couple of weeks completing a term paper for my class in “interventions in situations of trauma”. I was supposed to be focusing on survivors’ experiences from the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami earlier this year, but I couldn’t help but think about what my own reaction would be to an earthquake (and tsunami) throughout most of my research.

This morning at 3:58am I found out exactly what that would be, except for the tsunami part. I decided to go back to sleep. The things I am supposed to do (apparently) are hide under something stable, shut off the gas valves, try to find accurate information about what happened, and I should have had an emergency kit ready too. I did have a few things going for me though. I left the bathtub full of water and I had finally found out where we are supposed to evacuate to: The hoikuen!

What does an earthquake feel like? This earthquake damaged nothing but my sleep. It felt like…shaking. I must confess, this is my 2nd one. The first was 2 summers ago in Waterloo while I was in Japanese class (irony?), but it was so weak I barely noticed. This time, I heard the sound of deep earth rumbling kind of like in the movies. I couldn’t see much because of the whole nighttime thing. The quake only lasted a few seconds, but they were a very tense few seconds. I made sure to listen for the noises that falling things would make, but there were none of the sort. I waited for a siren. Siren means tsunami, and tsunami means trouble!

When I did get out of bed I tried to find out what happened by reading the news. The local “Fukui Shimbun” newspaper’s website had a compelling story about a lady and her radish leaves, but the Japan Meteorological Agency had some more information. The epicentre was a 4.8, and it was around 30km away from where we live. In that distance, what we felt would have been more like a 3.

This will be a lesson for us. Next time tectonic plates collide beneath us, we will do better. For now, I’m thankful that this earthquake was significant enough to cause us to reflect on it, but not big enough to hurt anyone.