Historical: the last 24 hours has been one of those days that I will always remember. I was just about to go to bed at about 2 a.m. ET (W-5) when I heard on the radio that there had been a massive 8.9 earthquake off of the eastern shore of Japan! This is the 5th strongest quake since 1900 in the world and was followed by numerous aftershocks which were high enough magnitude to do further damage.
It was what followed that would cause me to go into a sleepless overnight vigil of watching live footage and praying. Although the epicenter was offshore, it spawned a tsunami that reached 23 feet high as it crashed upon the northeastern coastal city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture (state) which was closest land to the epicenter.
Footage from cellphones and helicopters, security cameras and other such means documented live as the churning ocean surged inland taking sizable boats, buildings, trucks, cars, houses, people . . . everything in it’s path was being devoured and destroyed by this sudden natural disaster.Â Suddenly, Tokyo which was over 230 miles away from the quake’s epicenter was literally being rocked and shocked as the specially designed earthquake resistant buildings swayed with great strength in the middle of the bustling workday.
EVERYTHING CHANGED IN AN INSTANT
In a moment… the blink of an eye, people were jerked out of their everyday workday routines into a state of controlled panic. I say “controlled” only because it is true that Japan is noted as being one of the most practiced in emergency readiness countries in the world. Truthfully, the footage of many people did show remarkable calm being maintained as they seemed to act by rote practice of emergency drills. Only — this was NOT a drill, which was apparent as slabs of drywall fell from the ceiling of a department store, a bronze statue lie on the sidewalk next to the pedestal upon which it had been perched while a citizen was performing CPR on a victim and others cried as yet another aftershock (some in 6.0 range) caused even more of building frontages to fall down narrowly missing people moving about. Meanwhile, there were two women holding some kind of pillow over their heads, standing in doorways trying to avoid further harm.
In that moment… members of the Japanese Parliment were forced to stop there stately deliberations as more urgent matters had presented themselves in the strongest possible “tabling of a motion”. At this same time, co-workers in office buildings were shown hustling under their desks while books, papers and computers fell all around them. Another person was seen in a supermarket with grocery packages crashing to the floor amidst the isles of rocking shelves while the attendant struggled simply to remain standing on her feet!
What we did not see in these video snippets were the no-doubt terrified children in daycare and school situations. Oh how my heart cried out for them and their mothers. I remember what it was like in the mid 0’s when tornadoes struck in the middle of the day when we kids were separated from our families (and that was in an era before cell phones). Since power went out with electrical grids, phone service and the nuclear power plant wisely shut down, the ways of connecting between family members was suddenly shut down.
Roads could be seen with gigantic fissures and cracks of displacements running 4 feet apart. The overhead highways were closed for closed to prevent further damage during the severe after shocks under heavy load of traffic. Additionally, the Bullet train transportation lines were shut down as the lines would need to be inspected before further use. There were even people literally stuck inside airplanes at the airport and others who made there way from the terminal to wait on top of the building. What we viewers don’t realize is that it was also frigid cold and raining!!
There are now famous video footage clippings of waves crashing over bridges and roads while cars try to speed away in vain. Tsunamis travel at 500-700 miles per hour! I saw a sea of debris consisting of buildings, floating vehicles, a large white boat, houses, surging across obvious villages and farmland. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. It was so catastrophic!
GROWING AREA OF CONCERN
I think it was about 3 a.m. or so when the USGS announced that the entire Pacific region was in a state of high alert with Tsunami warning going out to Hawaii Islands and even the Western Coast of the United States! The footage continued and they soon put up projections on when the Tsunami would hit Hawaii at about 8 a.m. our time and then U.S. about 11:30 our time.
There was NO WAY I was going to be able to sleep now!! I was watching the footage, crying out to God in prayer, calling upon the truth of Scripture to try to make sense of what I was witnessing. I saw people standing on bridges as hundreds of cars and fragments of villages churned under the bridges they were standing on.
I tweeted to #prayforthepacific which was a hash tag that was coined by one of my creative friends in Italy. And since it was going to involve more than #Japan I though it was best. However, the main thing that I wanted to do was keep up with information as it came live and post much to #indyprayer and #prayer. This area of prayer is my foundational rock in times of trouble… and this was definitely such a time.
One of my FaceBook friends was in a Westin Resort about 1/8 a mile from the western edge of Maui. He was telling me that the sirens had been going off for hours, it was the middle of the night there. There had been an earthquake at Hawaii registered at like 4.6 within half-hour of the Japan big quake. A few of my Pacific coast friends were still up late and we were talking to David. He told us that although CNN was reporting that the Western Coast of the Hawaiian Islands were in danger and should evacuate, his hotel would be doing a vertical evacuation. They believed the resort would withstand the coming wave and would simply move guests up two or three floors.
The constant waiting and prayer was so hard, but I was feeling more and more peaceful about Hawaiian Islands and Santa Barbara, California (where we had lived on West Coast of U.S.for ten years). The scientists were saying that the reefs had a tendency to diminish the wave height. Still I did remember when the Santa Barbara Pier was quite damaged from a particularly bad storm and the beaches were a mess afterwards. It also threatened a few of our favorite restaurants and a bike shop where my husband and I had worked which was below sea level. That was then, this was now.
See NEXT POST . . . Tsunami of Prayer