How to handle an earthquake
On the first leg of my 24-hour journey to Japan, a Toronto man heading to Whistler with his family asks me where I'm off to. Japan, I tell him.
He's intrigued and asks a number of questions.
He's silent for a bit then suddenly turns to me and says, "Do you know what to do in an earthquake?"
It takes me a second to think back to my time in Japan and remember.
I think so, I say, uncertainly.
Though I lived in Japan for two years, my area deep in the mountains north of Tokyo seldom felt quakes. I recall tremors so slight they merely gave me a queasy sensation. If not for the rattling window panes a second later, I would've thought nothing of it.
His question was a good reminder of the aftershocks I'll likely
experience in Japan, where I've just arrived. News reports also mention the high possibility of another major quake in the next 24 hours.
Whether their predictions are accurate we'll find out soon enough.
The CBC News team has landed in Japan. We expect more live entries from Curt Petrovich, Amber Hildebrandt and others soon.
Waiting for my colleague, John Northcott, to arrive at Haneda airport, I spot an unusual sight.
A desk decked out in the Australian flag. The man standing behind it is stationed there to help any Australians affected by the quake and tsunami, such as though who lost their passports, get home.
Officials from other countries, including Canada, have been doing the same, he says.
It's an emergency measure foreigners, no doubt, appreciate. Though it's not enough to help all, especially those awaiting flights after theirs were cancelled.
At Narita airport, pockets of sleeping travellers remain throughout the airport. I spot a Brazilian group of 20, who work in Japan and spent two days in the airport after their Air Canada flight back home was cancelled. Sleeping bags, mats, boxes of Ritz crackers litter the ground around them. All of it from the airport, they told me as they packed up their stuff after finally securing a flight.
Another group of travellers from the States has a similar story. They've resorted to cardboard boxes to help make the sleep on the floor more bearable, along with the provided sleeping bags.
But while these travellers are inconvenienced by the quake, it's nothing compared to what the Tohoku region is going through.
Hard to sleep
Remember the scene in Jurassic Park in which the water in the cup has ripples from the approach of a dinosaur? The water on my hotel night stand shakes the same way.
The bed slides back and forth beneath me like a wave every ten or fifteen minutes. The aftershocks of Japan's worst earthquake seem to be getting more frequent and pronounced as they pass below my hotel room in Narita.
While they don't surprise me anymore I cannot sleep. Its the middle of the night here and I find myself just waiting for the next shift in the surfaces that until now I considered solid and safe.
Tokyo and surrounding area weren't hard hit, but there are still small signs of the quake -- and the fears sparked by it. Especially because of the nuclear power plant troubles in Fukushima prefecture.
Convenience store shelves are stripped bare of water and food. I've never seen one of the always abundantly stocked convenience stores with a bare section of shelf, never mind entire rows of bare shelves.
Rolling power outages are being scheduled to save electricity.
On Highway 51 in Ibaraki prefecture, one of the hit areas, we drove over a small rip across the road. In true Japanese style, a man in a bright orange outfit was stationed right beside it to flag motorists about the dip in the road.