About a quarter to midnight last night (PST), I heard about the earthquake in Japan. I was horrified and worried—although I lost contact with her several years ago, I had a Japanese penpal who lived in Tokyo. I still have a snapshot of her and her husband. I wondered if they were okay.
And then, a minute or so later, the word “tsunami” penetrated my consciousness, and I got a lot more worried. I live in Oregon, which is a coastal state. I live inland about 60 miles or so, and I wasn’t worried for myself, but my best friend and her family live on the Coast. Right on the Coast. Minutes from the beach. I started scouring the internet for information.
All I could find was that the tsunami was expected to hit Oregon between 7:00 and 7:30ish this morning. I couldn’t find much information on the expected severity.
I finally went to bed about 3:30, and then I got up at 6:30 so I could find out what was happening. There wasn’t much else I could do. (For the record, I did try to get in touch with my friend directly, but I couldn’t get hold of her.) So I sat in front of my computer for about three hours, keeping an eye on the news from Japan and other areas affected by the tsunami, and also keeping a very careful watch on a coastal webcam. The only webcam I could find that (a.) was running and (b.) showed water—instead of, for instance, streets—is a bit south of where my friend lives, and it shows an inlet rather than full-horizon ocean, but it at least gave me some idea of what the water levels were like over there.
Around 9:00 or so, my friend got in touch with me. They were on high alert, and cities on both sides of her had already been evacuated as a precaution. The area she lives in was safe from flooding, although not from the danger of being isolated by high waters, potentially trapping the people left in the dry zones. That was a worst-case scenario, though, and the general expectation was that things—at least in my friend’s community and surrounding areas—were going to be fine.
It’s after ten p.m. as I write this. Unless there’s been some late-breaking complication since I last talked to her this afternoon, my friend and her family are fine and were never even in any real danger.
But I’ve been thinking all day how odd it is that an earthquake in Japan can make me fear for the safety of my best friend and her little girls in a small town on the Oregon Coast. We toss around the word “globalization” a lot, and generally we’re talking about technology, but natural disasters create their own kind of globalizing effect. I know it’s not a profound or original thought, and I don’t have anything profound or original to add to it, either, but it’s what’s been in the back of my mind since midnight.
Ayumi, I hope you and your husband and your families and friends are okay.