Japan’s triple whammy: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown

And now Libya, too. It’s just too much. All in one week.

I’ve been silent, overcome by the scope of the disaster. It’s hard to comprehend the enormity of Japan’s ongoing loss. As of yesterday, over 9,000 confirmed dead and more than 13,000 missing. Whole towns annihilated: houses, schools, shops, cars, boats— the survivors left with nothing, not even a local government to organize recovery and rebuilding. How do you recover from such a catastrophic trifecta?

If anyone can, the Japanese will. Stories of heroism and selflessness during the crisis are awe-inspiring: the 25-year-old woman who kept exhorting the townspeople to escape to high ground, remaining at the PA system until the wall of water swallowed her up; the teenager who stayed with his 80-year-old grandmother for nine days until rescue workers found them; the workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant sacrificing their own lives so that the rest of us may be spared a nuclear night.

Faced with shortages experienced only in wartime, the Japanese queue up patiently, waiting their turn to get water, food or gasoline. Some must subsist on a single rice cake a day, but they pull together, helping one another. Supermarkets cut prices, vending-machine owners give drinks away free and there’s almost a complete lack of looting.

“You are standing with us”

As battered as our faith in our own government and institutions has been lately, we can console ourselves that times of need bring out the best in us. Listen to the gentle Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S., expressing his nation’s gratitude for our assistance. His deeply moving words begin at the 7:11 mark, after Judy Woodruff ends her interview for the PBS NewsHour.

1 Comment

Filed under Musings, People

One response to “Japan’s triple whammy: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown

  1. Pingback: Japan’s triple whammy: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown | Disaster: Mankind

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