March 11th 2011

Thank goodness for the Internet! At least we can all let our friends and family know we are OK.

The earthquake yesterday was huge and really scary. I have a ladies’ reading group who come twice a month and they were here, so we were all glad to not go through it together. After the quake the ladies watched TV and monitored the news, and I made (very British!) cups of tea.

There were a lot of aftershocks, and they have continued through the night, but they are fewer than yesterday and not as powerful. My ladies left at 4pm but I told them to come back if they couldn’t get home. All the trains stopped and so 3 of them had no way to get home. They hung around at a local hospital (as did others) until 11pm when the hospital told them they all had to leave (a bit mean I think). Then they finally called me and came back, and slept here last night.

Although it is almost the end of the school year there were quite a lot of students and teachers at school – the students doing club activities and the teachers finishing up grades etc. They stayed at school overnight – over 100 students and at least 25 teachers and other staff. I went in at just after 6:30 and everything was calm. I think the students have supported each other through it, and also they haven’t seen the TV pictures yet. I am glad for this, better they see it when they get home to their families. While I was at school there were parents arriving all the time to pick up their girls, and the trains are running again.

So Tokyo is waking up and everyone is getting home. I feel very fortunate that I was at home and not alone. Going to sleep in my own bed last night I prayed for the millions of people walking home from work in Tokyo or stuck in offices or at stations.

The picture in Sendai and Miyagi is terrible, and I expect the death toll will rise quickly today. Watching the tsunami arrive on live TV was surreal and absolutely awful.

So this was The Big One, the one we have all been waiting for. The biggest Japan has ever had, the 6th biggest in the world ever, 8,000 times bigger than the earthquake that hit Christchurch. It is an odd feeling, waking up to Tokyo, which feels the same, but we all know Japan is different this morning. I am so proud of our school, the staff who stayed calm and kept the girls safe, the students themselves who supported each other and were remarkably calm and smiley this morning.

Although the mobile phone networks went down and landlines had only patchy service, the Internet kept us connected and I managed to keep in touch with a lot of people to make sure they were OK. It seems in these difficult situations we all look out for each other and that is a positive aspect of all this.

I am sure there will be a lot happening in the next few days, and so I will keep in touch and let you know what is happening. For now, though, I am OK, Tokyo is relatively unscathed. For the people in Sendai it is very different and they need all our prayers and all the help we can give them.

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