It’s been nearly a month since the Touhoku Earthquake sucker-punched Japan and in this intervening time I’ve been struggling to write a post about it that didn’t seem hollow or crass. I felt doing so was important because what I really wanted to do to help – flying to Japan and helping with the relief efforts – was the last thing that Japan needed.
I suspect part of my problem in writing this is that I’ve never really experienced anything similar; the closest I’ve gotten happened when I was a young boy and a F5 tornado tore through a town about 4 miles from my house but even a F5 is small potatoes compared to a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. So, I tried many different angles and nothing seemed to work; the draft that I almost went with involved studying how anime (in this case Kamichu) had the power to affect a person when reacting to real-life events like this earthquake.
Finally, I realized the simplest response was really the best one. Namely, I hope everyone reading this keeps Japan in their prayers and, if possible, donate to a reputable charity of their choice. They’re going to need both for many more months.
Something I didn’t see really explained in the news coverage but came across by accident is that Japan’s electrical grid is split into two parts; the western half of the country runs on 60 Hz and the eastern half (which includes Tokyo) runs on 50 Hz. The two are, essentially, mutually exclusive so the extra electrical capacity that the western half has cannot be sent to the eastern half where the earthquake/tsunami has ravaged many of the power plants. That’s why there’s rolling blackouts now; TEPCO currently has nowhere near the power capacity to keep up with demand and nowhere to get it from. Which is very bad because if TEPCO can’t get a great deal of their lost capacity back before summer then there’s going to be millions of sick and elderly people having to get through a humid, hot summer with no air conditioning. Never a good thing.