We made the news and everything.
(No tsunami warning. That's certainly a relief considering we are a landlocked prefecture!)
It started last night really but that was just a little tremor and those aren't unknown around here.
But this morning was more than a tremor. It was a real shaker. I was in my paddy pants, t-shirt, messy bed hair and sandals drinking coffee with neighbour A in her nightie. We were leaning against a garden bed under her carport catching up.
Everything started shaking and rattling and the electricity wires were waving around wildly. We decided it was best to head home and get dressed just incase!
On the way home I ran into two neighbours. Mrs N was walking her dog and had only heard of the quake when her son called to ask if she was ok. Didn't feel a thing. Mrs K. had come out of her house to stand on the road and see what damage there was. A couple of plates and cups had fallen down but that was it.
We all went on our way thinking not much had happened. I answered lots of calls and texts from concerned family and friends (love you all!) and by the time I got inside to turn on the news it had moved on and there wasn't even a scrolling info bar so I assumed it had been nothing and fed the animals, picked some herbs, got changed and headed off to teach my cooking class. I was just about there when the boss called. The community centre's gas detector had gone off and they couldn't use the gas until it was checked. We could use the room if we wanted but no gas. Funnily enough a gas-less cooking class wasn't really going to work so we cancelled the class. As I was driving through the south of the city on my way to work I noticed some gravestones tumbled down, a concrete fence that had fallen onto the street, some facing from a couple of buildings were splattered on the ground outside the shops etc. I was feeling a bit more nervous now. The SDF helicopter flew overhead heading further south still and emergency sirens were going off all around.
But then I work just down the road from the University hospital and not that far form a fire brigade so really emergency vehicles are nothing out of the ordinary. Unless you're nervous that is. Then everything takes on extra significance!
There were three more tremors throughout the day. Not as big as the early morning one but enough to make you feel uneasy. (Who am I kidding? ALL earthquakes make me uneasy!!)
Went to pick up the girls and they both had notices about the earthquake. The kinder had also registered a gas leak and they hadn't been able to have a hot lunch. They had cold corn soup, canned tuna, the rice they bring from home and water rather than barley tea for lunch. Amy was rather impressed with the cold corn soup but the teachers were very apologetic. Oh and the note? If there is a Shindo 6 (about Magnitude 5.8??) or higher earthquake we are to automatically come and get our kids from the kinder without waiting for the phone tree. I understand them not wanting to look after 210 freaked out kids in a possibly structurally unsound building but I really doubt many of us would be able to get there. All those bridges between Matsumoto and Azusagawa... the 40 minute drive with possible cracks in the road? I smiled and said I'd do my best.
Meg's day? She had been in the morning class meeting (pre-first lesson, kind of like homeroom) when the earthquake occurred. They all dove under their desks and waited until they were given the ok to get out. How did they know when to get out? The teacher told them to. How did he know? .... Was there a PA announcement? No. Did the teacher turn the classroom tv on to check the news? No. Guess it must be some kind of Japanese DNA earthquake ESP thing then, huh?
And the note Meg brought home said don't come to school to get your kid after an earthquake, don't call the school (with 816 kids and I am guessing only one phoneline -we are only given one contact number- the school is very anti-phone. There is pretty much nothing you are asked to phone them about- sick? send a note with another kid, want to talk to the teacher? write a note, change of plans for after school? write a note etc etc) all the kids will be kept at school until a plan is organised. If they need to be sent home the phone tree will be used. Students will be kept at the school until their parents are able to get there. Please don't rush and take care. Observe parking restrictions at all times.
This will be fun. In case of a large earthquake (and they predict a 50% chance of another Shindo 5+ in the next week) I will drive right past Meg's school without even pausing on my way to pick up Amy. Bizarre.
It was a pretty unsettling day but the girls were fine with it all (those monthly evacuation drills do wonders to normalise these situations) and it was heartwarming to receive so many nice emails.
Though I'm not quite panicky enough to take up MIL's offer of coming and staying in Fukushima for a while till things calm down....
Here's to quiet living!