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When last Friday’s earthquake hit our city (Fukushima) around 2:40 p.m., I was preparing for a Chinese class. At first I thought it was a usual quake, but it was much stronger and lasted longer than usual. Then a bookshelf fell and I panicked!

In May 1960, tsunami from the Great Chilean Earthquake (magnitude 9.5) hit my hometown, the present Minamisanriku- machi, in Miyagi Prefecture. There were no tsunami victims at that time! I think that was due to old people’s guidance to younger generations on what to listen for before a tsunami hit shore. Last Friday’s terrible tsunami hit some 30 minutes after the quake. If more people had been able to get to higher places, I believe more lives would have been saved.

My sister lives in Sendai, my oldest brother in Shiogama, and one more brother in Onagawa, which was destroyed almost completely by the tsunami. I cannot contact them by phone yet. Our family stayed at a community center near our house. Personnel at the center helped us a lot and served us meals. The people who stayed there behaved well, too. Our neighbor has a well and we were free to pump water from the well.

We have to know that we still have a sense of community. Thank you very much, everyone!

masayuki aihara

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