Sunday, March 13, 2011
Although Odate is in the mountains and thus safe from tsunamis, we knew it must have gotten a severe shaking. So we called her mom's house late Thursday night as soon as we heard, and ... nothing.
Phone calls don't connect. No rings, just beeping. We try phoning with Skype: beep-beep-beep only. Other relatives' landlines are the same. We only know a couple of cell numbers, and they don't work either.
So we turn to the internet. But Odate is too small and obscure to be mentioned even in Japanese national news when such spectacular events are taking place elsewhere, and we can find out nothing.
We turn to local websites. The Odate city government website: down. Local newspapers: down or not updated. TV sites: down.
We know that probably everyone is OK. Odate is obviously in no danger from tsunamis. And it seems far enough from the epicenter to escape the worst of the shaking. Probably. But we don't know. And we can't know. There's no way to contact anyone.
I remember Twitter. Does anyone from Odate tweet? I go to Twitter and try a few different things until I hit on the right hashtags: #odate and #oodate.
And I start reading: Power is out. Water is out. It's cold with no heat, but luckily not the dead of winter. "If you use a kerosene stove, be careful of your ventilation." And, from a man at City Hall: "No reports of any injuries or collapsed buildings." We hope that's right. There's nothing else we can do; we go to bed.
Friday, we still can't get through by phone. On Twitter, "Power still out; water still out." But: "Confirmed no injuries or collapsed buildings."
And on through the day: "Power is on in the hospital area." At City Hall. Water back on in a few areas. Power in a few. Reports on which gas stations are open. Where to get food.
Then: "We have power!" "We have water!" Some areas still without power, though. Phones still not working. Power will be back on shortly. No, it will take the rest of the day. We go to bed Friday night still not having talked to anyone.
Early Saturday afternoon, we finally get through by phone. Everyone's fine. They've had a scary 40 hours -- there are still aftershocks -- mostly without power, but everyone's fine.
And I imagine those 40 hours the way they would have been for us even five years ago. I imagine having had no information at all during that time -- not only having no idea how our family was, but not even knowing what general conditions were like in Odate. And I am so, so grateful for Twitter.
Follow me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook
Ask me a question on formspring