I'm not sure if this earthquake even has a name yet. But I heard it called a "great quake", one so powerful that we have them less than once a year the world over.
Friday the PF had the day off from work, so we went off to have an adventure. Really, I wanted to try to get pictures of Manzamo Point in case I could use some for the cliffs/waves/ocean categories in the photo scavenger hunt I'm taking part in this month. My pictures were uninspired and the usual harsh reminder that I don't know what I'm doing :-) After that we continued to drive around the beautiful area just north of Onna Village, found a wonderful example of classically Japanese fun ridiculousness in the Benimo-Tarte Superstore (my name for it), and all around found our liking for this country and specifically this island growing in a way that it hadn't in a while.
On our way home we stopped at the husband's work and the GNG and I went to check the mail. The East China Sea was glimmering at very low tide in the afternoon sun, and it was so clear we could see Naha and the Keramas outlined against the orange sky. As we were getting out of the car at the post office my phone rang. It was my husband's friend J, wondering if we were still on the coast and warning us that there had been a huge earthquake on the mainland and that there was a tsunami warning out. Suddenly I tuned in to all that extraneous Okinawa noise that I tune out because I don't understand it: multiple sirens followed by announcements. Tons of traffic headed uphill. The way the cell phone had repeatedly said "Please wait a while" when we'd tried to make a call a few minutes earlier. So we got in the car and headed home.
We were already probably out of reach of even a huge wave, but better safe than sorry. Our house is on the highest point around so I preferred to be there. We remained under tsunami warning until Saturday evening, actually (over 24 hours after the quake), but nothing came of it--maybe a 1-2 foot surge. But since you never know until it's over what sort of wave is going to come, for the first time I was really grateful that we did not live in one of those fabulous oceanfront apartments that "everyone else" seems to have. Where Okinawa is versus the rest of Japan:
That pink place on the map? That's where my friend A is, where they say the death toll could top 10,000. She's without heat and power, but safe. And hopefully still coming to visit and warm up in a couple of weeks!
When we got home on Friday we turned on the TV and saw what you all in the States saw when you got up on Friday morning. I remember that it said "8 confirmed dead". It seems so very Japanese (in the best sense) to put out a number like that--so contained, controlled, confirmed--when we knew perfectly well that the death toll could easily reach 100 times that, and 1,000 times that is not inconceivable. I pray not. The lady on the Japanese news channel was chirping along in her rollicking high-pitched chatter, while the picture was a map of Japan with areas along the coast frantically flashing red, orange, or yellow. By a couple of hours later the cell phone clips started rolling in--of the ceiling in an airport collapsing, of the first-person view of someone on the street or in his office when the earthquake started, and of that ever-repeating, sickening tidal wave on the plain near Sendai.
The base is starting to get together a few relief efforts, but there is still much confusion (as of Monday) as to how stuff is getting up there and when. If I DO donate a bunch of warm clothes and diapers, I sure want them to arrive there instead of sitting in some mail room or warehouse. We are so close, but so helpless to provide material assistance. It's frustrating.