Mar 12, 2011

Surviving the Earthquake in Japan

Hi Everyone,
We're doing "fine" here.  Considering what is going on around us.  When the first big quake hit, around 2:45 in the afternoon on Friday, I ran to Gray's room and grabbed him out of his crib.  We've had plenty of earthquakes in the 2.5 years we've been here, but this one was huge.  Gabe started crying and calling for me --I got him too and we huddled on the stairs away from windows and light fixtures.  The two big boys were walking home from school and came in while the house was still shaking.  They thought it was exciting.  I yelled at them to "GET BACK OUTSIDE!" because I'd just been told if you're outside, you're supposed to stay outside!  I sat on the stairs praying: "Please protect my kids, please protect my kids, please protect my kids..."  It seemed to last forever (around 5 minutes I've heard) and then the aftershocks just kept coming and coming.  They're still coming.

They evacuated the hospital and Doug was able to come home around 4.  [I can't tell you what a relief it was to have my whole entire family safe and together.  And how upsetting it was/is to think of people all over Japan who have family unaccounted for.  It's really hard for me whenever one of the husbands has to leave.]

Since then, the power has been out and we haven't had any heat or access to phones (to the states) or Internet (except Doug getting one e-mail out from the hospital.)   Friday evening we moved our friends in with us (Tami and Wes and three kids) since they just shipped all of their stuff to the states in preparation for their move in two weeks.  It's been nice to have them around because everyone is on edge and extremely stressed.  (And Tami is very cool under pressure!  She's amazing.  Me, not so much turns out.)

Yesterday (Saturday) they opened the commissary (No lights, cash only) and we grabbed some extra food, water and diapers.  Since we have the standard Mormon "food storage" I wasn't too worried about running out of food or water, but I didn't have any spare diapers so was happy to buy three big boxes yesterday for Gray-Gray.  (And yes, I bought two big cans of hot chocolate.  Priorities, people!)

We went to church for a shortened meeting to take the sacrament and get the news today.  All members of the branch have been accounted for and we've heard that all the missionaries in Japan are accounted for also.  (Big relief.)

The power is now back on off-base which is how I have Internet access right now.  We're at Tami's house.  Hopefully it stays on.

Anyway, evidently Misawa is going to become the base for rescue operations in nearby prefectures.    We were asked at church to see what extra coats, blankets, food and water we can round up to donate to the Japanese people nearby.  I feel heart sick thinking of those who've lost homes and loved ones.  Although you probably know much more than me, I hear the devastation is extremely great.   We were lucky to be so safe on base and grateful our off-base friends and neighbors were okay.

The earthquakes (aftershocks) haven't stopped and I spent all night last night having nightmares about running from collapsing and buckling buildings.  The kids are on edge and tantrums are at an all time high.  They keep busy playing during the day, but when it gets dark and we have to ration flashlights and candles it gets extra hard to keep the peace.

A few things I've been wanting to tell people and note for the future:

*Get an old school, corded phone.  If the power goes out, your cordless wont work.  We were lucky to have a corded phone upstairs which helped Doug coordinate with the Branch President to get accountability of church members.  (The phones have worked on-base off and on, but we were never able to get a call through to the states.)

*Speaking of accountability, in an emergency, if you're going to leave your house--leave a note on the door saying where you are going so when guys from church or work coming looking, they'll know where you are.

*When the power went out, people off base couldn't get their cars out of their garage.  Turns out there is a special crank to use but most of our friends didn't have it or know what it was.  Luckily Tami had parked outside and was able to get her kids to our house Friday.

*We've been cooking with our camping equipment.  Note to self:  Buy a 20 pack of small propane tanks.  We've also used our outdoor BBQ (in the cold) and I'm wishing I had a spare tank of Propane for that.  (We still don't have power and don't know when it will come back on On Base.  Estimates have said 24 hours (we're way past that) to 1 week, to indefinite.)

*Do you have an extra refill of your prescriptions in your 72 hour kit?  It's terrifying to imagine running out of the things you take every day.  Also, the thought of my kids getting sick and not having enough Children's Advil and/or Tylenol made me pretty nervous until I verified we had some of each.

*For ONCE I was glad to be doing Dave Ramsey yesterday when we had plenty of cash on hand to shop at the commissary.  But we also have a cash and yen emergency fund hidden in the house for back-up which was very comforting.

*While I'm making notes to myself:  Buy a hand crank wheat grinder and blender!  (We have whole wheat, and we have a freezer full of frozen fruit to make smoothies but no way to blend anything.)

*Flashlights are a pain in my butt.  All of our stupid Rayovac crappy-crap batteries that I had stored for an emergency, LEAKED!  So the flashlights are all slowly dying, being over used by the children, and being misplaced.  The best source of light the last two nights has been the pillar candles I've had in the cupboard for fancy table settings.  They seem to burn pretty slow and shed a lot of light.  I've gone through 3 and have 1 left.  Wish I had a 20 pack of those in my 72 hour pack.  It would be nice not to worry about running out.  Small, light weight, energy efficient lanterns would be nice too.  (Turns out, I did have 100 hour candles in my pack...just didn't know/remember.)

*Also, my next house will have a wood burning fire place.  This all would have been much easier if we could have been warm.  (Other option, buy a propane heater.)

*Also, I'm buying all my kids a down comforter.  We have one on our bed and we've been fine at night, but the kids need 20 blankets piled up to stay warm.  (Actually, the two big boys each have a two layer fleece blanket which is pretty warm, but unfortunately, they're not very big.)  There is still snow on the ground here.

(Poor little Gray had to spend yesterday in his snow suit to stay warm.  The poor little guy must be sensing the stress because he's been quite out of sorts.  He's always shivering (even when bundled) and very clingy.  The kids are all confused and upset but mostly hanging in there.  Like I said, it's been nice to have friends to keep us company.)

Sorry, I'm rambling on and on but I've had all this stress for the last two days and my main way to process is by writing my thoughts down.  So I've been going a little nuts feeling so disconnected.

A few more random thoughts:
*The last two days this thought kept running through my head "All are safely gathered in.".  I can't express enough how glad I was/am to have my family around me.  Please say a prayer for our many many friends with deployed spouses.  This is a very stressful time here and it's really sucky for them to be apart.  Also, please pray for all the Japanese people who are missing or displaced.  So sad.

*We were very blessed on base to have running (freezing cold) water.  Off base, sewer lines broke and contaminated the water supply they weren't even supposed to touch it.

*Today we sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" at church.  Has a lot of meaning right now.

Okay, there are other people who need to use this computer.  Everyone on base is coming off base to try to contact family.

Tami's husband (Pilot) is at work trying to coordinate rescue efforts so I should go down and help her take care of the multitude of children and get everyone some lunch.

Please pray for us (us being everyone in Japan) and if you feel so inclined, find a way to send some warm blankets to people who've lost their homes.  Don't know when I'll be back on-line again, but hopefully soon.

Thanks to everyone for your concern.  I knew (figured) there were people praying for us back in the states and it helped to think about that.



Maddie said...


I've been thinking about you and am so grateful you are all OK. At the same time, my heart aches for so many people who have lost homes or loved ones. We will continue to pray for you all!

Your cousin, Kim

Xylene said...

I am so glad you guys are OK! Reading your post makes me realize I am not ready at all for any kind of earthquake or disaster. Makes me frantic and freaks me out! I am glad you are prepared. We will pray for you and the others.
Much love!

Adriane said...

So glad you were able to update and that you guys are okay. Praying for the best possible outcome for you guys and everyone in Japan. Stay strong. <3

Polliwog said...

Our prayers are with you too. Thanks for the detailed update and for all of the excellent advice. Hang in there! You are stronger than you know.

Lily Eggleston said...

I am really glad at this moment to read your words. You are in our prayers. I especially appreciate your notes about what you've learned through this so that we may all be prepared for the future. No rayovac batteries here.

Anonymous said...

Our prayer have with you and was grateful when we heard from Jeff that he had got an email but soooooo grateful to hear from you. we will see what we can send through the RED Cross abd the church. Our hearts go out to all but so happy you guys are ok and wish you were cold and scared. I've worried about how this effects the little ones.
Prayers will continue your way but if we can get someting to you that you need let us know.


Anonymous said...

Our prayer have with you and was grateful when we heard from Jeff that he had got an email but soooooo grateful to hear from you. we will see what we can send through the RED Cross abd the church. Our hearts go out to all but so happy you guys are ok and wish you were cold and scared. I've worried about how this effects the little ones.
Prayers will continue your way but if we can get someting to you that you need let us know.


Anonymous said...


I am glad to hear that your family is safe. Our prayers go out to all in Japan. Be safe.

Debby van Renselaar

Laura said...

So glad to hear that your family is all safe! We've been thinking of you. Thanks for the insights. Having never been through a real emergency such as this it's good to hear your perspective to help us be better prepared.

Love, The Benoits

Valerie said...

What a scary thing to live through! I know that things will not be back to normal for a while even for those of you who have not lost their home or loved ones and will keep all of you in my prayers. Thanks so much for sharing all your first-hand knowledge so we can be prepared.

I found you on MMB blog list recently, but can't remember if I left a comment.

Jessi said...

What an ordeal!! I am glad to hear that you have survived and endured it well. I would not have been as prepared. Reading this helps me realize I need to get some things in order.

KT said...

I have been thinking about you constantly and am so glad all is well. You have been in my prayers. Your post is so emotional for me, I can't believe what your going through. Thank you for sharing all your advice. I had just updated our 72 hour kits about a week ago, but I will add a few more things now. We'll continue to pray for you and your family to have peace. Thinking of your babies (and my own) just is making me so sad. All of Japan is in our thoughts and prayers.

Your cousin,

Anonymous said...

Our hearts and prayers are with you!

Kristen R said...

I really wish i could give you a great big hug! We love you guys so much and are grateful you are safe.

Leslie said...

glad you're okay!!

Anonymous said...

Leslie, to you and your family. I too am happy you are all together.We don't know you but are of your faith and live in idaho. We have felt so sad for all of you going through this devistation.
Our prayers are with you. And thank you for letting us know what items would come in handy for an emergency. Mother of 5 grandma of 11

Pinspot said...

I am seriously going to run right out and buy an old phone and a camp stove. And name brand batteries. And everything else you recommended. So so so so glad you're all right.

Michelle Glauser said...

It's good to know you're well and I was intrigued by your suggestions for future emergencies.

Chy said...

Hello! I don't know you but my mom sent me your blog link warning me to read your post and get working on my food storage! So glad I did. I pray that you and your beautiful family is safe and comforted. If you know of a good address to send blankets or hygeine kits to please let me know we have LOTS that I would love to send them out. Anain you are so brave and amazing you are oin our prayers.
Love the Jorgensens

Susan Anderson said...

I'm a new visitor, but I wanted to say that I am already praying for your family.

Living in California as I do, I'm taking your advice to heart about preparation, too.



Unknown said...

I was led to your blog from a link on "mormontimes" relating to the disaster in Japan..... my heart and prayers go out to you and all those suffering through this ordeal. Thanks for sharing your experiences in this way.... food for thought on just how prepared I am for such a situation.

Anonymous said...

Someone posted a link to your blog on's survival forum. There is nothing like hearing from someone first hand in a survival situation to get you prepping again. Thanks for the post, stay safe, and god bless from Montana, USA.

mama bear said...

SO glad you are okay! I kind of wish I could send you some hot chocolate or something. Man, we really need to get some 72 hour kits here! Thanks for the updates, and let us know if you want us to make phone calls for you or anything like that. Or, just leave Japan right now and come live with us!!!!!

Stephanie said...

I am new visitor and my prayers are with you and Japan

Anonymous said...

Craftyknitterlady says I'll pray for you and family

Lindsay said...

i don't know you but i found your blog through my friend, sheriece. your advice for what to have in a 72 hour kit are SO helpful. i'm gonna start putting stuff together. i'll keep you in my prayers.

scturtles said...

My sister forwarded your message to me. I don't know you but like all others we are praying for everyone. We are feeling very helpless here. Would love to get blankets and other things you need to everyone there. Do you have an address we can send stuff safely and quickly?

Lisa said...

Your blog post is humbling & sobering. So glad you guys are faring well. Please know that you are all loved & prayed for daily by even strangers.

Unknown said...

Hey Em,
We are TOTALLY praying for all of the people in Japan. My heart hurts for all those affected by all this craziness. I feel so guilty living my happy safe life here at home. It's so sad. Thanks for giving us lots of great 72 hr. kit tips. You are in our prayers. Stay strong girlie!

Jennie {Cinnaberry Suite}

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good news of the survival of your family and friends! And thanks for the valuable advice - very useful!
May God give you strength and protect you all!

Rachel Dorol said...

I am glad that you are safe..

mamo said...

Thanks for all your good tips about survival first hand. You never know what you will really need in any emergency. We are praying for familys in Japan just like yours.

Tiff Keetch said...

Yay! I found you again!

I am currently working on updating 72 hour kits for my family and emergency prep in general. I live in Utah (and we're due for an earthquake any day). I found your blog once before, but I couldn't remember the name of it for the life of me when I lost it.

I've tried to find posts with all of the different labels you have (MM perspective, earthquake updates, etc.) and they are all so filled with great tidbits I don't want to miss any. I know you probably have a ton on your to-do list, but if you get a chance would you label every post about the earthquakes/emergency preparedness in one label?? It would be super beneficial to me (and I'm sure lots of other people who are also in prep mode like me..) to learn from those who have been through an earthquake how I should best prepare...

Thanks so much!

Lyana said...

Six years later... here I am rereading your post with tears in my eyes. What a crazy thing we all lived through...