Practice Drills Before A Disaster

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I teach in an international school in Tokyo. At 2:45 p.m. on Mar. 10, 2011 we had an earthquake and evacuation drill. At 2:46 p.m. on Mar. 11, we had the 8.9 earthquake. Because we had just "rehearsed" the same thing the day before, all 470 students and all staff knew exactly what to do and there was no panic. Most of the time we feel "ho hum, not another drill interrupting my class," but yesterday proved to us that they are very important.

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We evacuated to the playground where we waited for parents to pick up their students. Many students live on train lines which were not running. Cell phones and land lines were not working, but we discovered we could use the Internet and Skype. Make sure your children know how to contact you in an emergency! Think through what you would do if you were at work and they were at school. Designate a neighbor or friend to take care of your child if you are unable to get there, and let the school know who it is.

Those who could not return home because of the trains, stayed in the houses of those of us who live near enough to walk. I was scrambling to find an extra toothbrush, but otherwise we had no trouble housing people. Simple living aside, it might be a good idea to keep a few extra toothbrushes around.

Kindness was seen in all directions, from the moment we evacuated to the playground: Children comforted each other; High school students prayed together in huddles; The librarian sat on the ground and read a book to a group of kindergartners and first graders; Staff members and visiting parents who just happened to be there sat near enough to the building to get Wi-Fi on their computers and helped children contact parents.

I think the clincher for me was when the parents of a first grader, who stayed at our neighbor's, picked him up. The mother said, "I had two strangers in my home last night, because we nearly got stuck on the subway together. We were just going to get on the train when the earthquake happened. I couldn't help but invite them to sleep at our house."

This is not a thrifty tip, but it is on my heart today - practice for disaster, be prepared, and most of all, practice kindness every day and it will stay with you in a disaster.

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Source: my experience during and after the earthquake

By cantate from Tokyo, Japan

Editor's Note: This is a stock photo, not from the recent damage in Japan.

March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. Thank goodness that you were prepared and that you saw so much kindness through a terrible situation. My best wishes to you and all the people affected by this disaster.

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, I'm so glad that you are okay. I have relatives in Okinawa and Tokyo. When I turned on my computer and saw the magnitude, I immediately called my mom (she's from Okinawa). It took several tries, but eventually she got through to a brother, and the island was okay (thank goodness, that island is so small!). She e-mailed the relatives in Tokyo and quickly heard back that they were okay.

Now I worry about the nuclear power plants. My heart aches for everyone in Japan. I know that they're a tough people, but the future is going to be very difficult. And I'm hoping for no more disasters.

Please keep us posted. I'll be thinking about you!

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, Thank you for letting us know that you and the people around you are ok. I have a cousin living in Tokyo and I know that he is safe. He emailed his Mom. Just know that the people in Japan are in our prayers. God Speed.

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, thank you for sharing! I am keeping everyone in Japan in my prayers. God will see you through. He always does. Those of us in Missouri are in the process of sending help. Hang on! God bless you!

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, We are thankful you are all right and are praying for everyone in Japan! Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Japan!

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Just so you all know: this is not my photo! We were nowhere near the tsunami; just in the earthquake. Tokyo is now experiencing planned blackouts to save energy. So glad I also have a flashlight with a crank recharger, and candles. All supplies such as rice, milk, bread and gasoline are being shipped north to those who need them so the shelves in stores are getting bare. Bicycles are important. Making sure you have food on hand for emergencies is important. Don't worry about me, I was prepared!

Editor's Note: I added a stock photo so we could highlight your post on our home page. Glad to hear that you are safe and sound.

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Cantate, Always remember that 'blessings come in all forms and disguises', you are in our thoughts and prayers here in NC.

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Your story should be shared with school children everywhere. So many times, these drills become dull & boring to people to the point they don't listen anymore. Your story would make it more personal to show children what the drills are REALLY for!.

Whenever I fly, I am always a little shocked that most people don't listen to the attendants speech on what to do "in the event of an emergency"-would these people know what to do if there WAS an emergency?

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing your "real life" story Cantate. All of Japan is in our prayers. This is a tragedy of such magnitude that it's really difficult to imagine for us who are safe at the moment. We watch the TV, and pray for your country to survive and once again rise above such a difficult time.

God Bless you all.

Pookarina

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you for this lovely post. We are praying for you all there and I wish I could do something for you all! It is also heartwarming to hear from an actual person there and not just what the news people might say. God bless you and take care of you all and your country!

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Very good advice, thank you for sharing.

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