Mar 31, 2011

Earthquake Diary 46

 Tomone enjoying herself.
 I showed this sushi shop in an earlier photo. At that time many of the tiles were off the roof. Now they have covered the roof with plastic tarpaulins and are open for business again.
 The construction along the river has started again. I do not understand what they are doing, but whatever it is they are working hard at it. They are filling large cloth bags with dirt, so I thought that they were starting to make a coffer dam so they could build an underwater base for the siding they will probably put on the bank. However, they did not leave the bags here, but instead they carried them about 500 meters to the right and piled them in a place where I thought the construction was finished a year ago. The construction, according to the required sign, will continue until the end of June so it is going to be a large scale project, whatever it is.
 This is a place where a wall collapsed and part of a vegetable garden fell into the space this created. In the middle of the picture is a negi (a green onion) happily grown about a meter away from where it had been before the quake.
 This is some more of the same wall. The plum tree fell over with the wall but is still in the process of blossoming. It is a very pretty tree and in another week or so it should be in full bloom, reminding us that life goes on for those who remain.
 This is one of the buildings that are adjacent to the river. A crew is hard at work getting fixed up enough so that the company can do business again.
 I showed pictures of the road at this corner. It was broken up and parts were at different heights. They have now put in temporary patches so that cars can drive over it without problems. You can still see the height differences in the foreground.

The news has been giving us statistics about the damage. As I said there is only 70% of the usual gasoline. Electric power has been down about the same amount but it is gradually being increased and there are fewer power outages in Tokyo. The main sewerage processing plant for this area was severely damaged, so they are asking people to use less toilet paper and to flush less frequently, until they can get it repaired.  The train lines are gradually being put back into service but there are large gaps where the damage will take weeks to repair. Some of these gaps are being filled by buses. Fresh food is also in short supply, mainly because of the nuclear problem and the government decision to ban food sales from a large area around the nuclear generators. The areas hit by the tsunami remain devastated and will stay that way for years in many cases. However, there is a feverish effort going to get the debris removed and things into some sort of livable state. The debris in Miyagi Prefecture is equivalent to 23 years worth of normal trash. There is a problem with where to put it all. What do you do with hundreds of thousands of ruined refrigerators, TVs, washing machines, cars, computers and all the other stuff that was destroyed?

Earthquake Diary 45

 In these pictures we are still on our trip to the York Town Shopping Center. It was very surprising to see the parking lot with so many cars. According to the newspaper and TV, there is only about 70% of the gasoline that was available last year. So this many people driving to the shopping center was unexpected. However, thinking about it I guess that people were planning on buying a lot and needed the cars to take all the stuff home.
 This is my granddaughter Tomone Yatsu.
 Tomone wanted to eat ramen (noodles). in fact, she had been talking about it since she got up. This shop has very good ramen and they were open. As with many restaurants the menu was reduced, only five or six items, but we ate and it was delicious. Plus Tomone was happy.
 After we ate we shopped at Sato Shokai and did some shopping.
 This is the yard of a takubin company. Takubin is like the American UPS. They deliver parcels from door to door. They are behind in their services because of road damage and the lack of gas, but they are trying hard. Actually my older daughter sent a package, a children's magazine for Tomone, from Tokyo and it arrived in less than 24 hours. The man that delivered it said that most packages were take two to four times as long as usual. Apparently because the magazine package was small, it was constantly just thrown in with larger packages, so it came right through as fast as possible.
 Part way home we passed a park with children's play area. Since we had nothing special to do and no where special to be, we let Tomone play as long as she wanted.

Mar 30, 2011

Earthquake Diary 44

 This is a regular TV channel. Notice that there is writing on the left and the bottom. This is a steady stream of information about transportation, hospitals, utilities, school schedules, stores that are open, and many other things. It is extremely useful.
 This is the temporary repairs to my building. They metal bar on the left is attached to a platform that used to be horizontal, connecting the building to the entrance structure which moved quite a bit during the quake. The caretakers put a board under the raised portion (you can see some white tape holding against the platform) and then covered the entire thing with a plastic welcome mat. Finally they used tape to hold the whole thing in place. It was quick but functional.
 This is the entrance to the admin building, where the sidewalk dropped in relation to the building and many of the tiles broke. Here they replaced the tiles and taped them down. This sort of thing is typical of temporary repairs that are being made all over the area.
 This is the police facility that is in front of our complex. Notice that the Japanese flag is flying at half mast in honor of all of the dead.
 The four of us decided to walk to Yorktown Plaza again. On the way we pass a karaoke palace. I noticed that the weather vane on the roof had almost collapsed.
 We stopped a Sato Shokai and found that many of the shelves were empty but in actuality they had more for sale than I expected. This is the fresh food section, milk, cheese, meat, etc, and it is kind of bare. The frozen food section was about the same, but anything prepackaged was available as usual.
 In an earlier post I showed this electronics and appliance store before. We tried to get batteries but the store was closed. They had a large pile of insulation and stuff that they were dragging down from the store and piling in the first floor parking lot. This time, as you can see, they have put a temporary wall around the building.
There was a long line waiting to get into the supermarket. We did not really need anything so we just took a look and left. We were, however, glad to see that they were letting people into the inside of the store and there seemed to be few limits on what they could purchase.

Earthquake Diary 43

I have said that in Izumi Chuo there are two large stores, Ito Yokado and Selva, and each has a supermarket in the basement. Today both supermarkets reopened, although the rest of the floors remain closed off. Both stores were well stocked and there were very few empty shelves. What was missing was mainly perishables that they are having trouble transporting or things that are made in factories that were destroyed or damaged.

I was finally able to buy yogurt two large containers. There were no limits on anything as far as I could tell. Also both stores have food courts where there are a number of fast food shops. These were almost all open, except a few that still had workmen repairing things. Also most of them did not have drinks. Even Mr Donuts did not have coffee. So we lunched on goodies that we normally do not eat and on the way home finished it off by getting Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Also good news today. During the morning a crew from the gas company came and dug up the road outside our complex. I expect that this means that they will be able to restart our gas pretty soon, and that will mean that I can take a long hot shower.

I also got another piece of good news - my cell phone has been repaired and I can pick it up tomorrow. They originally said it would take two to three months but it was only a week.

On the news last night, they asked everyone to use as little toilet paper as possible. The reason is that the main sewerage plant was badly damage and the amount of sewerage that is being generate is more than the current capacity of the system. They want to prevent raw sewerage from accumulating.

Earthquake Diary 42

 These are still pictures that I took on the way back from shopping at the supermarket way to the west of our apartment. Both my wife and I needed to use the toilet when we got back to Izumi Chuo, so we went into the ward office. In the men's room I found that part of the wall had fallen during the quake, but it was completely cleaned up, not repaired but cleaned.
 Heading for home we started down Suisen Dori, the pedestrian way, that goes about half way home. We had barely entered when we saw this large work crew. Both my wife and commented on how good it was that they were getting repairs underway so quickly. Then as we got closer, we both burst out laughing.
 They were not repairing anything. They were taking out part of the walkway and putting in a new garden.

We figured that the city must have scheduled the work and it was just being done on because it was on the list for today.
 This is the new bridge near my apartment. I do not understand the stress system in the load bearing part of the bridge but these blocks obvious received a lot of stress.
 This was taken near the foundation of the next bridge to the west. The crack was about the width of my palm and I could not see the bottom of it.
 On Friday, two days later, I again went to the supermarket and was able to buy pork. The first meat we had found of sale since the quake. This is another shopping center, Caraway, that is next to where we used to live. It is also close to our doctor and has a good bread shop and a branch of our bank, so stop there sometimes. The top section of the wall has fallen and many of the large glass plates that form the first floor walls have broken. I suspect that it will be open again soon, except for a supermarket. The supermarket here closed long before the quake.
This is a view out one of my windows. A workman from the highway department is fixing the mirrors that allow drivers exiting our parking lot to see if there are any cars coming.

I wonder whether they are checking all of the mirrors in the city or are just fixing those that people call in about. I have no way of finding out.

I heard that the insurance companies are going to treat missing people as dead for insurance purposes. This means that payment can come quickly, rather than waiting the normally required length of time in case the person shows up again. I think this is an example of the unique Japanese reaction to the disaster. There seems to be very few people trying to make extra money, rather people are cooperating and keeping prices as low as possible. I have heard some rumors about bad things happening in other places but I have seen absolutely no evidence that these are anything more than rumors.

Normality is returning. The high school baseball tournament has started in Osaka, Although the Miyagi team lost, they were treated as heroes when they returned.

Earthquake Diary 41

Wednesday, March 30
Yesterday I went out and walked along the east side of the subway line from Yaotome to Dainohara and then I returned home along the west side.

I was quite surprised by the amount of damage that I saw. It was much worse than around my area. In addition to the increased destruction, I noticed that there were colored notices taped to many of the houses. The green papers said that they building had been inspected and that the city said it was safe. The yellow papers indicated that there were problems and that only limited entrance was allow. The red ones said that the building was too severely damaged to allow anyone to enter. I was shocked by the number of red papers that I saw. I will have pictures of these when I get caught up with posting my photos.

The subway seemed to only be damaged at the stations. There were large work crews at each.

Another thing that I noticed was that more and more of the minor damage that could be considered a safety hazard is being repaired. Large cracks in the road or sidewalk are being smoothed out with asphalt.

In Yaotome, I saw a group form the Osaka Gas company working on the line under the sidewalk. They are apparently finding more damage than they expected. Also one of our contacts told us that they have to be careful about how many new houses come on line each day. It there are too many, it could overwhelm the distribution system, causing more damage and/or outages.

Mar 29, 2011

Earthquake Diary 40

 This is the base of the high tension power transmission tower that is right beside our apartment complex. When I left in the morning, there was a crew working here but when I returned they had gone. However, in the meantime they had fixed all the cracks in the concrete. The line that goes from the foreground post to the tower is fresh adhesive of some kind. Now that it is dried, it looks very strong.
 My wife and I were about to turn into our complex, but we saw this fire truck down by the river and decided to investigate. The crane is supporting a basket and that basket is supporting a large yellow hose, which goes to a pump in the truck and then continues along the riverside.
 A hundred meters or so down river the hose is placed so that the water that is coming out of it goes back into the river.
 Another fire truck was parked a little further on down the river. After wondering about it a little bit, we realized that they were practicing for the work that is going on at the nuclear plant in Fukushima. The hose is large, heavy and awkward, so without practice, it would be very hard to use for real. They are drawing firefighters from all overt he country to work on the nuclear site. They spend just a short time there, limiting their exposure, and then they return home.

 This is a concrete stairway into a playground. The entire staircase with all its foundation move about two meters during the quake
 Here is another view of it from the other side.
On the way home, we usually cross a levee between two ponds (the one on the left is higher than the one on the right). However, it was closed because of damage. I was tempted to just duck under the tape but then I realized that it looked like it really was dangerous, so we walked around the pond on the right.

Earthquake Diary 39

 This is the 7 /11 that is near my apartment. After going to Izumi Chuo in the morning, I came here in the afternoon. There was a sign on the door saying that they would open at 2. p.m. I waited in line for an hour and a half and managed to buy one small loaf of bread, nothing else, just a loaf of bread.
 Because all the industry in the area (six prefectures) is shut down, the air is extremely clear, giving us an extraordinary view of the mountains to the west. It just goes to show that there is some good in everything.
 Izumi Chuo has two large supermarkets - Ito Yokado and Selva. As I have shown, Ito Yokado open very quickly after the quake, first outdoors and then inside the main entrance. Selva had not opened. But now, they took over the space under the second floor of the parking lot and opened a market. My wife and I stood in line to buy fresh vegetables and whatever else we could get.
 Still in line. It goes to the left and the turns and then turns again before entering the market area.
 The dark blob on the right is the line that I was in and in the distance you can see the line of people waiting to get into Ito Yokado.
 Getting closer to the entrance.
 The first store sold Japanese manju (cake with bean paste inside) and some other Japanese treats - balls made of mushed up rice and covered with bean or sesame paste. This was our first stop when were finally able to enter.
This is the people rushing around inside, trying to get what they wanted before it sold out.

Earthquake Diary 38

 This is the station building at Izumi Chuo. My art lessons are held on the top floor just under the pole that sticks up from the roof. However, I have received an email saying that the building is so badly damaged that no one is allowed into it and that classes are suspended until they know what is going to happen with the building - repair? rebuild? just leave it empty? The members of my class are going to get together in April and decide what to do. Hopefully, we can find a place where we can meet and pay the teacher directly until the culture center reopens.
 When walking home from Izumi Chuo, I usually take Suisen Dori (Daffodil Road), a pedestrians only wide path that goes about a third of the way to my home. However, to get to it, you have to cross a pedestrian bridge over one of the main roads. As I showed before, this bridge received a lot of damage, although it was still passable. Today I found that some temporary repair work had been done. In this picture the metal cover for the space between the bridge and the approach had been replaced and taped down.
 Here they had just blocked of the damaged area and put asphalt over a large crack.
 The approach dropped (or the bridge rose) about 10 centimeters, leaving a very easy to trip over step. This had been covered with asphalt to make it less dangerous.
 One of the first buildings on Suisen Dori is a health club. On this day they had opened the bath to the public, with members having priority. Since there is no gas at all and many places are still without water, this is a very great public service.
 This is a new medical clinic that has reopened. One of the problems that people are having is that their prescription medicines are running out and the hospitals and clinics are mostly still closed.
 You probably can not see it in the picture unless you enlarge it, but there is a single yellow rope stretched around the building with a sign on it (on the right side of the vertical white sign with red lettering). The sign says that the building can not be entered because it is unsafe.
This is structural material that fell of the local 77 Bank. They apparently just dumped it in this are to get it out of the way, so that they could reopen.