Former Towson student dealing with post-disaster life in Japan

Earthquake's aftermath



Special to b

Most twentysomethings just out of college only worry about landing their first job. The worries of Mitchiyuki Takahashi, 24, a native of Odawara, a Tokyo suburb 280 miles from the Sendai epicenter, have increased tenfold in recent days. Living again in his hometown, Mitchi, a former marketing student at Towson University (and my ex-roommate), describes what life has been like in the face of the one of the largest earthquakes on record.


(Provided photo)

Did you feel the earthquake when it started? What was it like?

At that time, I [had just gotten] into my car. And when I started the engine, I heard from the radio, the person warned about the earthquake from the north. And suddenly, I just felt shaking. It took a while to stop and while [it was happening] I couldn't move.

Do you have friends or family in the northeast, where it occurred? If so, what are they saying? Are they safe?

My uncle is living in Sendai-Miyagi. My parents tried to call but all the [phones] are dead. So still we can't contact ... them. Many people are trying to call so the network is [congested]. The radio is saying not to use [the phones] for unnecessary calls because there are people who really need to use phone to call 911. What is interesting is that people are using Twitter to communicate. There are some rumors going around on Twitter, but it was very helpful to contact my friends in Tokyo in this situation. And Twitter brings information much faster.

Are you afraid? What is the mood?

We feel safe at my place, but I heard that more earthquakes might be [coming] for a month. We are worried about another big earthquake in the south. Many scientists are saying that we will have a huge earthquake in southwest region in the future and it might cause a volcano from Mt. Fuji. We are worried about the secondary effect. Are there still after-shocks?

Yeah, I still feel small earthquakes once in an hour.


How is Odawara handling the affects of the quake?

We didn't have that much damage, but highways are closed and all the roads close to the ocean are closed [because of the] tsunami.

Are the streets empty?

I saw people were walking since all the transit has been stopped. Also cars, people went to convenience store to buy some food and went to gas station to get fuel just in case.

Are tsunamis a threat to Odawara's coastline?

In this case, a tsunami is not that big threat in Odawara area but I saw many fish boats went offshore to prepare for tsunami.


How is the Japanese government handling the situation?

The government talks about sending a defense force to the north and warning all the people who live close to the nuclear plant. Also they warned about aftershocks. Especially in Tokyo, many people are staying at their office and stations. Also many people are [trying] to go home. Since trains are all closed, all the roads in Tokyo have traffic jams by car. Many schools and other public spaces are now open to let people use their bathrooms and rest until morning.