It was spring break for me and my mothers brother Greg invited me to Japan. He was married to a Japanese woman who lived in Fukushima all of her life. When I arrived in Japan I had a lot of fun, the culture was strange but interesting to me, I couldn’t eat the sushi because of my allergy to any type of seafood. During the day Greg and his wife went to work and at night they would take me out to get a taste of Japanese culture which I fell in love with. One thing about Japan that I didn’t like was the earthquake and the tsunami.
Greg and his wife, Akanarua, were at work on the day of the earthquake. I was reading meteorological textbooks on the living room table. All of the sudden I heard creaking in the walls, then everything started to shake. I knew what it was, an earthquake and I got under the table as the worst of the quake hit. Glass fell off the shelves and wood started to fall on top of the table. The shaking was so strong that my body swayed with the earth as those six minutes. During that time as everything started to fall I prayed to God that I would be ok. I cried I was so scared. Then as fast as it came, it was gone.
The silence after the earthquake made me feel like the whole world has ended. It was just silence. Greg told me if there was an earthquake when he wasn’t home is to try to get out of the house incase of aftershocks. I started to crawl through the rubble, I got cut on sharp objects as I made it out of the house. I just looked at the rubble, in a state of shock as the whole house was just rubble.
Then the sirens started to start to sound, again speaking in Japanese and I had no idea what it was saying. I started to panic as people started to scream at me in Japanese as they were heading to the hill. Then a police man came to me, and I told him in three different languages, English, Russian and French that I don’t understand Japanese. Then a woman in her twenties stopped her car and approached us. The officer moved his hands like to tell her to get out of here. They started talking in Japanese and then she took my hand and spoke to me.
“We need to get out of here.” She said to me in perfect English. “There is a tsunami coming, I will take you to higher ground.” She told the officer that she will look after me as I got in her car and she took us to a building that was high up and on higher ground.
“My name is Nomi.” She said to me as she kneeled down and looked at me in the eye. “Now where are you from?”
“I was born in Russia but I live in the United States.” I said to her.
“Ok who are you staying with?” She asked. I explained to her that I was staying with my uncle and that my parents were in the United States. The fact that I didn’t have American citizenship yet I was considered a Russian citizen in the disaster. So that means that I have to get to a Russian consulate or embassy to get back home. Then people in the building started screaming and I ran to the banister and I saw the water destroy the town. It was like the worst thing I have ever seen, cars being swept away and pieces of houses. Nomi kept me close to her through out the disaster and I stayed with her until I got the news that my uncle and aunt didn’t make it. Nomi told the police that I needed to get out as soon as possible and get to the embassy. This was when there was a helicopter landed for the very injured that is when I got in.
“Stay safe Nomi.” I said to her as the blades started to start up.
“We will be in touch.” She said.
We arrived outside the evacuation zone and that is when an employee of a Russian consulate greeted me and took me to the consulate where I was safe. Phones didn’t work but since the radiation from the plant started to come out they had to evacuate the consulate. They scrambled a plane to take us to Vladivostok, by this time it has been four days where I haven’t talked to my parents. The second we landed in Russia the first phone call out from anybody was my call to my family. They were relieved that I was alright and safe in Russia, but the loss of Greg took a toll on my mother.
I got home a week after the phone call, I took a flight from Vladivostok, Russia to Hawaii, then Hawaii to LA and then LA to Chicago. I was exhausted, I didn’t have anything that I brought with me to Japan. When I arrived in Chicago I was looking for my parents, then I heard my mother screaming my name. We ran to each other crying with joy and hugged so tightly that it hurt me but it didn’t matter I finally saw my mother.
A few weeks later my mother gave me a letter from Japan. It was from Nomi, asking if I was ok. To this day, we write letters to each other. When I think of earthquakes I think of the one that I went through, so that is where my phobia of earthquakes come from.