Japan-Honolulu Earthquake Journal
One Worry at a Time: With resiliency, love and a lot of text messages, a Hawaii family separated during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami picks its way through the aftermath.
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Saturday, March 12
CNN – シー・エヌ・エヌ
One of my calls was to a friend of ours who works at CNN. Maybe he could get his correspondents in Sendai to get Yasue some food. Although it did not result in food, it did result in an interview, one of the first with a survivor to air internationally. This interview would expand dramatically the number of people wanting to help. We couldn’t be more proud of Yasue and how she handled herself in the interview. She had been through a lot. Her mother’s illness, the quake, the tsunami. She was very emotional at the end of the interview, which really hit Ian and me hard.
Our phone began ringing off the hook. First our home phone. Then my cell. Then Ian’s. The media was unbelievably fast. While Yasue was still being interviewed live on CNN, the New York-based producer for Diane Sawyer called and wanted to know how he, too, could reach Yasue. Then Anderson Cooper’s producer called. Then the folks from CBS’ The Early Show. KITV, Hawaii News Now and The Honolulu Star-Advertiser called as well. Some media members began connecting with Ian on Facebook, trying to get more information out of him.
Sunday, March 13
Hope in a Bowl – 丼ぶりの中の希望
The weather was increasingly getting worse as the temperatures began to fall. Still, Yasue needed food, so it didn’t matter how cold it was. Yasue walked to Sendai City Hall. At City Hall, she was told to go to the Ward Office, so she walked there. The Ward Office told her to go to an Evacuation Center, so Yasue walked there. She waited in a long line only to find out when she got to the front that people staying at the shelter had priority. So, she left. On her walk back to her mom, Yasue found people selling musubi and miso soup and she ate it on the street.
Text: Sooo good!!! I even got tamago-don [egg and rice] for mom and roommates. I am full tonight!!!
Monday, March 14
Food, Friends from the Outside World – 食料、海外からの友
Some of our efforts began to pay off. A team of reporters from Pacific Stars & Stripes, where Yasue and I both used to work, finally made it to Sendai. Elena, the team’s interpreter, is a friend of Yasue’s, and she thankfully had some food for her. This was the first success of the new “company” Ian and I had founded and called jokingly The FAB 2 (Food Acquisition Business, Too). He’s the chief technologist (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). I’m the old-fashioned phone/email guy. The FAB 2 is an ever-growing network of caring people helping us on what is currently a singular focus—getting food to Yasue.
Tuesday, March 15
A Journey Home – 一時帰宅
Yasue heard the road to her house was clear and decided she would try driving, as that would allow her to bring more things back to the hospital. She took the 7-mile drive, unsure of what she would find. It took a couple of hours, but she made it and, to our surprise, the house was still standing and sound enough to enter. There were broken dishes everywhere and virtually every shelf was cleared. The TV, however, still stood on its stand. When Yasue turned it on, she was amazed to learn she had electricity. Her neighbors said it comes and goes. She spent the day cleaning and then gathered up her valuables—some food, money, passport, blankets, clean clothes. The food, of course, was the most important thing but fresh clothes were a close second. She’d been wearing the same thing since the quake hit.
Wednesday, March 16
Aftershocks – 余震
A fantastic start to our day. Yasue’s cousin in Tokyo works for a construction company. They have sent a truck up to Sendai that should arrive later today for their workers there and have included boxes for Yasue. We don’t know what’s in the boxes, but it will be better than Christmas. We are more blessed than most and, if all the FAB 2’s efforts pay off, we will be sharing food with as many earthquake victims as we can. Yasue is feeding herself, her mother and the three other patients in her mother’s room.
Every once in awhile, a concerned person will ask me about the nuclear plant. That is not our worry right now. Our mantra at FAB 2 is, “Only One Worry at a Time.”
It is snowing in Sendai. Yasue will spend the night at the house—her first night away from her mom since the quake.
Earlier today, she drove to a nearby town, Izumi-Cho, to get the emergency rations from her cousin’s company. Eight tangerines, four apples, four bananas, six packages of soba noodles, 12 packs of miso soup mix, two boxes of instant soup, 14 packages of rice, six packages of ramen noodles, two packages of curry, one package of gratin, 16 cans of mostly protein (tuna, clams, sardines, meat, etc.), four liters of water, two flashlights, two packs of AAA batteries, vinyl gloves, wet wipes, tin foil, plastic wrap, hand towels and face masks.
The house will be very cold and has no running water. Yasue is used to the cold nights—before the quake she slept there and they do not heat their house at night. Water is now our concern. The victims in Sendai have suffered through more than 400 aftershocks, many quite large. It is unnerving when the earth starts shaking again, and each aftershock is yet one more reminder of the misery Japan is suffering through.