Thursday, March 24, 2011

21st March: My Message to Friends

Hi All,

Thanks a lot for the messages and wishes! I am happy that I can at least give you some information from Tokyo (far from Sendai and Fukushima, but we have to wait a bit more before any volunteering).

Today, Tokyo had rain for the first time after the quake. Some people were scared about rain bringing radiation. I think this did not happen to Tokyo because the winds were from the South for the last couple of days and rains start when the direction is about to change. But some of the troubled areas are having both snow and rain. This makes life hard for them, staying in places without proper insulation and heating. Relief workers are preparing/building emergency shelters just outside the troubled areas, and moving people into them.

With roads being cleared gradually, many places are getting improved supplies of food, water, clothing, baby diapers etc. Several town offices in Tokyo metropolitan region have organized donation and delivery of these things, and people are helping.

One problem Tokyo has is the power cuts and other measures for saving electricity. This is done to prevent sudden blackouts, caused by too much demand when some power plants are not running. With all the rescue work etc, it is better to try our best to prevent them.

Only 50-80% of the usually scheduled trains are operating. Most workplaces have arranged for flex-time work and work-from-home, and some people use bicycles (not uncommon here). The illuminations and big displays in most shopping districts are off.

There is a minor shortage of the supply of diesel, as I found out from a friend attached to a volunteer organization distributing food in the region. About 70% of the oil refineries are working at normal capacity. With more buses and trucks covering the absence of trains, and priority to provide fuel for relief work, a shortage in supply for ordinary vehicles seems normal.

I haven't heard anybody in Tokyo complain, we know what the victims went through and what the evacuees are going through. we in Tokyo have been the lucky ones.

As for the nuclear plant, water in a cooling tank of one reactor started boiling. Having enough water in these tanks is very important, so the fire department, self defense forces and a building contractor are working on hosing extra water.

Reconnecting electrical supply to the last two plants is in progress. It takes a long time to fully test the connections and start electrical cooling pumps, but there is no way to rush it. Everyone's eagerly waiting for this.

Later, I will add a few other links to better-written and thought-provoking articles by fellow foreign students.

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