Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And then....

...what?  I don't even know where to begin.  The devastation being revealed in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami literally gets worse every.single.day.  It's so horrific, absolutely gut wrenching.  My heart breaks for Japan and her people, all those who've lost, or been lost.

Recovery efforts are in full swing, and I'm overjoyed to be playing a part.  I posted about the commercial planes that were diverted to our tiny air strip after the quake on Friday.  Two of the 11 planes ended up staying over night, which meant food and accommodations needed to be provided for the 630 passengers and crew.  I'm a Red Cross volunteer here and we were activated to set up the community center, process passengers and distribute meals.  It was a busy night, but it was good.  The RC volunteers were activated again Saturday evening to clean and stock one of the apartment buildings on base to house the relief teams that would be coming.  Another busy day.

On Saturday it quickly became clear that our base, because it's the airlift hub for the entire Pacific Air Force, would also become the hub for relief activity.  Relief workers and supplies process through our base on their way to Tohoku.  That means immigration/customs, food, accommodations, transportation, even vet/kennel support for relief workers (and search & rescue dogs!)  I work in the Logistics squadron, which, as it sounds, is responsible for all the logistical coordination of the disaster and relief personnel and supplies.  Plane loads of people and supplies started arriving on Saturday, so we've gone to 24/7 operations.  I worked a 12-hour shift on Sunday, 10 on Monday and again today.  I'm exhausted, but it's a good exhaustion.  It helps to know that, in some tiny way, I'm helping.

Now we've got the impending (or not?) nuclear "crisis".  What a cluster fuck!  It's so horrible, as if Japan hasn't suffered enough, now there's this.  It's IMPOSSIBLE to get a clear answer or any kind of direction.  On one end of the spectrum, the "experts" are insisting there's absolutely no threat of any harm, even in the absolute worst case of complete nuclear meltdown.  On the far, opposite end, you've got "experts" saying there's a very real, very probable threat of radiation contamination and sickness.  It's so terrible not knowing what's going on.  Some people saying we should stay, everything's fine.  Others are saying go, as quickly as possible?!?!  WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO???  Who's right?  Both sides provide very credible arguments and seemingly scientific evidence, and they completely contradict each other.  It's so confusing, and so scary.  I don't want to panic, I'm trying to stay calm, be reasonable, but CRAP!  I'm a single parent with 3 kids to consider.  I can't sleep, can't eat (not necessarily a bad thing) I've been so torn up over what to do.  Stay, or go?  Disrupt my kids lives, again, shell out a buttload of money and ship them out of the country, or stay and risk who knows what?

So, after agonizing all day, begging for advice from damn near every person who had the misfortune of crossing my path today, hours spent pouring over every report and analysis of the nuclear situation that I could get my paws on, I've finally decided to send the kids to Guam.  It's just not worth the risk.  I may head south for a few days myself, not sure yet.  Everything is "wait and see" but that's such a scary position to be in.  Ugh.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaken, but okay

For those of you who aren't on FaceBook,  just wanted to let you know we're all okay.  Very minor damage, one of my kokeshi dolls lost her head, drawers and cabinets flung open, and there's one big crack in my dining room wall.

I'm worried about Meg, who is at her dad's in Guam.  They've been ordered to evacuate ahead of the predicted tsunami, but her dad thinks they'll be safe in their 11th floor apartment.  Obviously I am NOT okay with that decision.  They're condo is directly on the beach.  But there's not much I can do from here, except pray that he's right.

Narita airport is closed, and Sendai airport has literally been washed out, so lots of planes got diverted to our tiny airport here on the base, so we're packed to the gills with jumbo airliners.  I feel sorry for all those people trapped on the planes, who knows for how long.  And you know they're not getting a clear story about what's going on, it must be terrifying not knowing what's happening.

This is all very surreal, I can't quite wrapped my mind around everything I'm seeing and hearing.  I was at work as the quake struck.  People were jumping out of windows in my building.  The ground seemed to shake forever.  It was only about 4 minutes I think, but it felt like 40 minutes to me.  We were allowed to leave work right then, but I stayed for a while to help with safety checks.  Phones were out for quite a while, still no cell service right now.  Still feeling pretty powerful aftershocks.  I'm used to earthquakes after 3.5 years here in Japan, but this one was really scary.  Maybe because of the one that just hit New Zealand?  Not sure, but this one scared the crap out of me.  But, we're all okay.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher