Hello, friends! Thank you for your immediate email inquiries and concerns. My family is okay. I join you in offering prayers for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, March 11 with a 9.0 Magnitude (officially rated). The devastation covered 500 kilometers in length and 200 kilometers in width. Thousands of people are missing, 380,000 people are reported in temporary shelters.
It is northeast Japan that was hardest hit and turned into wastelands of debris when the area was inundated with 30-foot waves. Houses, autos, planes and ships were all tossed around like toys and were bulldozed. Simply awed by the power of nature, we sat watching transfixed over and over unable to turn away from these images. Except this was no Hollywood movie. It was real and gobbled up in the muddy swirls were powerless humans. I saw Sendai airport completely isolated in the water, and the civilized city of Sendai, a population of one million, is suffering in flood and blazes. I'm watching Sendai people line up for water, gas, and foods. They desperately need our helping hands. My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones and all the displaced families.
I remember it was Torahiko Terada (1878-1935) and Uchichiro Nakatani (1900-1962), both scientists and essayists, who said "A natural disaster strikes when people lose their memories of the previous one." Well, I certainly do not forget Kobe Earthquake of 1995, the Magnitude 8 earthquake that awaited my return from the U.S. We just had the 15th Memorial Service in January this year. We know it strikes cyclically and perhaps we should have been better prepared for it. How does one or how does society prepare for something of this magnitude?
One of my friends fluent in French inquired today if the intended use of my email address "eberger" meant shelter. No, I use it simply as "Villanueva", the Spanish translation of my name, "Villa-E." I welcome his interpretation and I actually like it very much.
I live in Kyushu, southernmost island of Japan. We are lucky we have not suffered much damage from earthquakes. It is not natural disaster-free, however, as the city of Fukuoka had a minor one a few years ago while I was traveling in Eastern Europe. Genkaijima, off Fukuoka Bay sustained quite a bit of damage from that one. My wife telephoned and I was quite upset then.
Southern Kyushu has three active volcanoes now - Sakurajima, Kagoshima City; Mt. Aso near Kumamoto; and Shin-Moedake near the city of Kobayashi. The Shin-Moedake erupted this January, lava and ash falls followed. It's true we live in the danger zone, in the Ring of Fire. At least three plates come together where our country sits. Such is our fate. Let us wish for the best and get through this disaster.