It has taken me a week to get around to being able to write this. I want to write about the experience and my blog has become my journal since my project of posting everyday last year. I have taken a break from the daily posts for awhile. I am ready to be back, but maybe not daily.
Just over a week ago I hopped in the car with Sagawa-san at 2:36pm to go to the airport to meet Brian and Kristina. We were on the elevated expressway just before getting on to the Rainbow Bridge, it crosses Tokyo Bay, when we felt the earthquake. I remember being tossed back and forth in the back seat and the reading light in the back window was beating me in the head. I saw stuff crumbling out of the spaces in the concrete barrier on the side of the road. Sagawa-san drove to a place that was back at ground level and waited for the movement to stop. Then he drove across the bridge, it was still swaying. Of all the places I feared being in an earthquake, a bridge would have been at the top of my list. The next would be the subway. Today Rick reminded me that the Rainbow Bridge performed exactly as it had been designed to perform in an earthquake. He walked across it later that evening as part of his 1.5 hour journey home from the office.
We continued our journey towards the airport, but the freeway was closed at the first toll plaza. We sat there for over an hour and the car rocked with the frequent aftershocks. Over the last week there have been over 260 aftershocks. The last one, just this evening, was 5.9 and just 90km from Tokyo. Finally, we turned around and went back to the exit and got on the feeder/frontage road. Both Sagawa-san and I kept trying to call and text the office. Finally, in Chiba City 3.5 hours after we left and less than halfway to the airport Sagawa-san got through. We found out from Rick that the airport had closed immediately and that their flight had not landed. Sagawa-san turned around and we began our drive back into Tokyo. Rick left the office and began walking home, hoping to be there when Brian and Kristina called to let him know where they had landed. They landed at Yokota Air Base for refueling and then the plane flew to the Nagoya airport.
Sagawa-san and I eventually made our way over back roads and into the city only to find a huge traffic jam. At 11:10pm I asked him where his office was, I thought we were near it. This office is where he parks the car and takes the train home. He gestured to the right and said, “Just over there.” I told him I was getting out and walking. He objected and told me I needed to stay in the car. There were still many people out walking home. I assured him that I knew right where we were and explained that if I walked then we could both get home sooner. I had my coat on, unlocked the door and was on my way. Later, I was happy to hear that he got home about the same time I did. After a quick stop in a big hotel, I started home arriving at midnight just 50 minutes after I got out of the car.
Brian and Kristina had tickets on the bullet train back to Tokyo at 6:20am the next morning. Early Saturday Rick ran to Shinagawa station to meet them and in the absence of local trains and taxis they made the 1 hour walk home. It was good to be together we had fun time sightseeing and took a trip to Kyoto. They decided on Friday morning to leave a few days early. Some of the European airlines had pulled their flights and Continental was trying to determine how long they would be sending all their flights in, not many passengers on inbound flights. They were able to get on a flight Friday afternoon.
Most of the expats have left Japan, only a few from our branch are left here. I think most, if not all, are gone because of the problems with the nuclear reactors.
So why am I still here? All the voices of experts in the field have said that even in a worst case scenario the amount of radiation reaching Tokyo would be less than the level that would cause health risks. None of the experts disagree on this. The Lord has told us that things are going to get more and more challenging. And while we don’t seek the challenges and difficulties in life as we face them, we learn and grow from them. Each one we face prepares for the next. We need to seek the truth and to follow the example of the Savior. I hope that as I observe the people around me I can become more resilient, more concerned about the welfare of others, better at listening to the promptings of the Spirit and seeking to know the will of the Lord for me.
I spent time today trying to determine where all the sisters in my Relief Society are. They are spread across the world. Now, I need to focus on making sure that the sisters still here have what they need. Today was a beautiful day in Tokyo. The signs of spring are everywhere. Here are some pictures I took today so that you can see that Tokyo does not look like Sendai.
No our building isn’t leaning! It is standing upright. I was just trying to fit as much as I could into the photo from a close angle. I guess I could have walked across the street.