Friday, April 8, 2011

Earthquake / Tsunami Update on a Fellow Toastmaster

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children crying (One love)
Hear the children crying (One heart)
Sayin', "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Sayin', "Let's get together and feel all right."
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

- Bob Marley (1945-1981)
named song of the millennium by BBC


Safety of all Kesennuma Toastmaster members confirmed as of April 8. They had two members who had been out of contact after March 11. One member resides in Tome City, bordering between Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Tome is about 30 to 40 kilometers from the coastline. The other member resides in Rikuzen Takada, in Iwate Prefecture. Rikuzen Takada faces the ocean but his house was not inundated by tsunami as it stands at higher ground. This news is from the Web site Kagurazaka Toastmasters in Koenji started under the yellow banner initiative. It carried a photo of four spirited Kesennuma Toastmasters.


A special impromptu writing corner at the recent Taiwan Toastmasters Convention (April 22-24) in Taipei to encourage fellow Japanese Toastmasters. 加油 pronounced "jiayour" means "Fight". Each pasted a pad of note of encouragement with his or her signature.


I sent the following message to my overseas friends, Toastmasters and personal alike about a week after March 11, to which responses returned in drove. I thought I should share these responses with more people rather than keeping it to myself, so I’ve decided to post summaries as a blog extra. Thank you for all the messages you sent me with your prayers.

When I found the name Kesennuma among the cities hard hit by the Tohoku Earthquake, I immediately thought of Daniel Ross, founder of Kesennuma Toastmasters. I met him years ago in one of the District Conferences featuring speech contests in Tokyo. His name card read "Owner of Pine Rock School". Perhaps it was before the Kesennuma club was founded. He was quite a likable man. I only knew Kesennuma by name as a famous fishing port of saury and the bygone gold mines. So I asked him how he liked it there. He told me the city is small (pop. 73k), but he likes it because it has retained a natural beauty and small town charm with all the amenities that a bigger city has to offer.

I was happy to hear he was “OK” from a fellow Toastmaster. But that was the only status given on the people finder website.

Today, I got the latest message from the same source and felt really relieved to see it was written by him.

Indirectly reported was his message to his mother in Florida. He said he and his wife were safe. Their house survived the earthquake and tsunami because it stood on higher ground. Among the relatives an elderly aunt of his wife was still missing. On March 11, the port and business of Kesennuma were completely wiped out by humongous tremors and tsunami that followed. The huge oil and fuel tanks for steamers exploded and burned oil at night at the seaport. There was no power, no phones, no Internet, and no water whatsoever. Even cell phone signals were completely out or usage blocked so emergency services can use them exclusively. 15,000 dead in Miyagi. Many others are still missing. Innumerable now in evacuee shelters.

Here are the replies I got back:

Thank you Rio. Believe me, the people of the world have their hearts vibrating in emotion for the people of Japan. It will be a long time, but the Japanese people will put their world back together. I often wonder how many Japanese people are somehow thankful that this calamity did not come upon them by the hand of other human beings. I think about that every day when I join you in spirit.

- Paul (CA, USA)

I was out of the country during the terrible earthquake and tsunami; I hope you are all safe and well. Is there anything I can do to help? You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

- Paula (IN, USA)

Thank you Rio for sharing. So sad what has happened to Japan. The people of Japan are a model to the rest of the world in their behavior and tenacity. Stay well,

- Mikkie (FL, USA)

Aloha, Rio,
During the War time I was evacuated with my elementary school to Tanakura, Fukushima-Ken. The village is too far inland to be affected by a tsunami but may have sustained damages from the earthquake. Since my departure from Japan in 1955, I have not ventured to Tanakura, but did visit Koriyama with a tour group from Atsugi Naval Air Facility.

- Young (HI, USA)

It goes without saying that my sympathies are with the families suffering from the tsunami and earthquake and nuclear disaster that followed. The only ray of sunshine on the whole matter is that the people of Japan are resilient and do have the will and the means to eventually recover from it. Of course the loss of lives is not a recoverable feature of the will of the people, and the tragedy continues to go on as more bodies are recovered and more missing never found again. My heart goes out to those who were.

- Fred (CA, USA)

I am glad that you were not directly and physically affected by the tsunami or the quake. My heart goes out to those who were.

- Fred (San Diego, CA)

We have just returned from a six week trip and I do not think I wrote to you, though my thoughts were with you during the horrific news coming from Japan. I am relieved to hear that you and your family are safe. We were in Bali when the disaster struck and as you may know there was a small earthquake there the same night. We were flying to Australia as the news of the Tsunami broke...and we missed the initial coverage of what was going on. Of course our family was worried sick since there were at the same time tsunami warnings for Bali and Australia...none materialized, thankfully. But we didn't even know about the threat...also thankfully. We continue to pray for the safety and recovery of those who survived the disaster. Sending you good wishes for your family and countrymen.

- Joanne (NY, USA)

Thanks for the update Rio. It must be terrible to be in the middle of this tragedy.

- Allan and Angela (Canada)

Myself, friends and family here in Canada are concerned about my friends in Japan and the devastation your country has experienced. Sending you and everyone in Japan healing thoughts.

- Cristy (Canada)

Thanks so much for all your emails. It's great to know that you are doing ok. It's disheartening to see the images of Japan on the news and I could imagine how the local residents feel having to cope with the recent events. I have been thinking about the friends I met at Takarazuka Club. Have you heard from them by any chance? I sincerely wish them well.

- Reamick (Canada)

Glad to learn this morning that the nuclear crisis is finally wrapping up. Best to Japan!

- Lucien (Canada)

Yes the earthquake in Japan was/is terrible. We thought all the calamities in Australia were bad enough but they were absolutely nothing compared with the devastation in Japan. All those poor people missing and now the Nuclear catastrophe.

- Jose (Australia)

Glad to hear Daniel Ross is okay. The figures of the dead and missing are tremendous, so a small city may be completely wiped out, but not Kesennuma. I vaguely remember that around January 1, 2011, there were predictions made by various people who have predicted correctly in the past. As I recall I think some of the prediction were that the year 2011 would be a "hard" year both in natural disasters and in man-made (Middle East countries) disasters. It seems to me that those predictions have come true. So if there are other planets that are populated in our galaxy and other galaxies, then I hope we can find them and see what their secret to peace may be. The young man that was teaching in one of the international schools and who I thought was in the Tokyo area has shown up at his mother's apartment in Brunei, so at least Imran is safe.

- Shirley (Australia)

I still remember your speech about volcanoes at the Morris Gellman club in Buenos Aires and your several trials to climb Mt. Fuji. In some way or other you were then predicting these circumstances. I have my doubts if anyone could imagine what you are experiencing these days. It is nice we can hear from you once more. Our best regards from all Toastmasters members in Buenos Aires. I personally accompany you with my prayers.

- Lidia, U-4151 Morris Guellman Toastmasters Club (Argentine)

It is a terrible tragedy that afflicted Japan. Hope you and your family are safe. Do you have any relatives in northern parts of Japan? Our thoughts are with you. Let me know how you are, please.

- Jiri (Czech)

I hope that Japan will recover soon from the disaster. The kindness of Japanese in helping the victims of disaster gained high acclaim. There was no riot, no robbery during the disaster in Japan. The good discipline of Japanese has shown that Japan is a VERY successful country!!!

- Josephine (Malaysia)

Hello, Rio-san!
Stand firm. We pray for Japan.

- Natasha (Russia)

No comments: