Today CNN had a few clips of the earthquake as it happened in Misawa, Japan, which is up the coast north from Sendai. I was stationed in Misawa from 1977 through Dec. 1980. Within the first few months that I was there, we had a 7.2 earthquake. Before and following that there were smaller temblors during my tour there.
In the building where I worked, a few feet away from my chair there was a string hanging from the ceiling that had a nut tied on the end. It was our earthquake detector. Sometimes there were just shakes and shimmies. Sometimes there were ones that had you running out of the building or crawling under tables.
During the second one while I was there, I was in my dorm room on the top, 2nd floor. I ran to the end of the hall wanting to go down the fire escape to outside. The fire escape stairs were shaking so badly I was scared of them, but I was more scared of the building collapsing. When I got down the stairs on the lawn, I tried to get as far from all the buildings, trees and utility poles that I could. It twarn't easy.
I remember standing there looking across the street at the water tower. It had a gage on the outside that indicated the water level. That gage was bobbing like a fishing bobber. I was so scared the tower was going to topple and flood us. I couldn't tell what was shaking worse, my legs or the ground.
There were other minor ones I remember - one while I was riding on a bus, that was loopy. During one I was in the post grocery store. During another I was in the club on main base and remember people trying to scrunch under the lip of the bar and bottles falling off the shelf.
I came home one time to find everything from my shelves on the floor and the door to my refrigerator open. We learned to put tape on the bottom of knicknacks to keep them from falling off shelves.
It was good to see that no major damage happened at Misawa AFB. I visited their website and Facebook pages. There was disruption to electricity and water - meals and showers were disrupted. It seems from the first postings, though, that they will soon be back to normal.
As so many say, my heart goes out to the Japanese people. I cannot imagine trying to care for my parents if their house was collapsed, if we were outside, if we couldn't get to the blankets or water or food or toilet. I've got emergency water here; I have kerosene lamps, a kerosene heater, extra food, and propane cooking equipment, etc. If it was all buried under a collapsed building, what on earth would we do.