Friday, March 11, 2011

From John and Karen In Tokyo

Hi Everyone,

After watching CNN the last hour I thought I needed to let everyone know that we are OK and give you a few details.

It was quite a afternoon here as the earthquake hit about 2:50 PM, shortly before school was out.  I was teaching a class outside on the field when I thought I was getting dizzy, thought maybe I was going to have a heart attack or something...wobbly knees, things moving around, and then I saw the windows shaking in one of the buildings on campus and then the kids started pouring out of school and running to the field which is the meeting place for them in the case of a earthquake.

I ran back inside the school to check on my colleagues who were in the gym and the pool. Both were empty but the pool had about 1 1/2 feet of water outside of it on the deck and the water was still splashing 6 feet high off the walls.  We had to run a class of middle school kids out to the field in their swim suits.

The building shook like I have never seen before but thanks to a earthquake retrofitting in 1998, be had no damage to any buildings other than things falling off shelves.  Our old house even survived with minimal damage which I did not expect.

We got 90 % of the kids on the buses to go back down town, and the rest who ride trains stayed with friends or teachers out here by school.  I was at school until 11:00 PM and 19 of the 26 buses had not dropped the kids off downtown yet.  They got on the buses at 4:30!
Since the trains were shutdown and the major freeways were closed for inspections, travel within the city was almost at a standstill.
Thousands of people are still trying to walk home.

Tokyo which is a long way from Sendai where the epicenter was got off quite easy.  Unfortunately, Sendai and some other areas not only got hit with the earthquake, but the tsunami as well.  This will be a devastating event that is going to take a long time to recover.

We were extremely fortunate that today was a parent teacher conference day, so virtually no elementary kids were on campus, which made for extra room for the rest of the kids in the school to ride the buses.
Karen had just finished a conference with some parents in her office when the earthquake hit.

All school activities are cancelled for the weekend, including our first baseball game at Kinnick which is the naval base right on the water.  Hard telling how long we will be out of school although I heard some of the trains are starting to run again.

That is my update from Tokyo, hope all is well with you.

John and Karen

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