Hard to realize its been a whole 5 years since one of the longest days in the lives of those living in Japan at the time the Great North East Japan Earthquake.
A magnitude-9.0 earthquake off northeastern Japan 3 years ago today triggered a wall over water over 10 meters high. The highest waves were recorded over 10m along the coast of Tohoku and some washed inland several kilometers taking with it whole communities and lively hoods of thousands of people.
You do not have to be in Japan long before ever being asked or running in to the conversation “ where were you?” I have heard many interesting stories over the past 5 years from people where were actually there and seen the tsunami to those who sat awake all night due to the persistent roar of sirens.
My own family was rushed up stairs in our sea side apartment as tsunami warnings started blaring in the coastal city of Yokosuka Japan.
Personally I was in Singapore at the time, helpless to assist them but still did my part warning Naval vessels in port of the incoming wave across the pacific ocean. All the while plotting it buoy by buoy, island by island. I had little sleep for several days after the 11th.
Furthermore as most people living in Japan remember there was a mass evacuation of residents soon after the Fukushima Daichi Plant melted down. Thank goodness my family was able to evacuate while I stayed behind and assisted in some of my most important jobs to date. First plotting and forecasting the wind around the Nuclear plant to ensure vessels off the coast did not take a swipe of radiation and forecasting the weather for those assisting in the worst impacted areas.
What I do know is even working at a International TV station and whatever lies out ahead of me in my future, those weeks following the earthquake will stick with me as the most influential and challenging days of my Meteorological career.
I would like to ask for those reading to share your story below in the comments, where were you?
My story is light compared to the true impact though……..
The amount of people dead and missing after this disaster is over 18,500. As of today in still over 100,000 people are living in temporary shelters across the worst hit areas.
The aftermath was not just the tsunami recovery but also the problem of figuring out where to store the massive amounts of contaminated radioactive material that resulted from fallout during the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Not all of Fukushima is contaminated though, a popular misconception with people who have never been to Japan, at the link is my vlog from Fukushima two years ago.
In short there is still a long road ahead for recovery in north east Japan but there has been a lot of improvement as well. People have learned lessons from the past and moved homes to higher elevations. Many smaller communities continue to struggle though as most people have moved following the disaster 5 years ago.
Do remember though, Japan is still a beautiful country, it is my favorite place in the world (even after visiting 30 plus countries) . Full of fantastic people who will go out of their way for each other and are welcoming to foreigners and residents abroad.