Do We Need to Prepare for an Earthquake and Tsunami?

March 11. Woke up as usual. While sipping black coffee and watching television in the morning, my little daughter asked about the cause of the tsunami on March 11, 2011. I tried to explain to her that the tsunami on March 11 happened due to the earthquake in the pacific ocean. Many questions followed when her elder daughter also joined. Almost 30 minutes of question and answer game in the morning itself! Then the final question came: Will it happen again and do we need to prepare for it?

Reached office, worked and returned back home as usual. Nobody talked about March 11 at the workplace. The day was just like any other day. Some offices might have observed a silent prayer time. Newspapers were full of reports from various corners, how NGOs approach to commemorate the devastating earthquake and tsunami happened five years ago and pay the homage to the departed souls. At schools, students observed a minute of silence at 2:46 p.m. There was no difference to the March 11 for an average Japanese at workplaces, or they simply did not show it in public.

Japan Times and Japan Today had reported that millions of people were expected to observe a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. in Japan as the country marks the fifth anniversary of the March 2011 quake and tsunami that devastated coastal areas of the Tohoku region. As per the official records, the disaster killed 19,304 and left an additional 2,561 lives still unaccounted until today. This year’s homage to the victims of March 11 was highlighted by the growing agitation among the public against nuclear power. The prime minister Mr. Abe went to the extent of issuing a statement in parliament that it was impossible for Japan to remain at the status of an
industrialized nation without nuclear power. For a country like Japan, where natural resources are limited, nuclear power is indispensable. The government accelerates the process to reactivate the 42 commercial reactors that were shut down after the nuclear crisis followed by the March 11 tsunami.

Whether nuclear power could be totally eliminated or not should be discussed after developing alternative energy sources powerful to feed industries and urban life. I am not a supporter of nuclear power, but understand and believe in a simple fact we need powerful energy sources to enhance the life conditions. Removal of nuclear energy could be possibly done after making sure the capabilities of alternative energy sources. If the government is convinced the alternative energy sources can support industries and urban life, then go ahead. The March 11 anniversary comes as around 174,000 evacuees from disaster-hit areas are still living outside their damaged hometowns. Is this what the nuclear energy could do to the uplifting of human life?

Out of the 174,000 evacuees from the tsunami-hit areas, around 43,000 are from Fukushima. Fukushima is the prefecture where TEPCO’s No.1 nuclear power plant was wrecked by the March 11 tsunami. Yesterday, the Japan government issued a statement (Japan today reported this news today) that the restoration of housing infrastructures had been almost finished. Most of the houses have been built by the residents or supported by the volunteers. This is something remarkable and unique to Japan. Houses in coastal areas have been built at high places to avoid possible tsunami in the future.

Japanese government expect another big earthquake and tsunami in the near future. Preparations have been continuously done by various agencies to educate people to remain alert and practice safe evacuation procedures. At home, we conducted a check at the Earthquake Emergency Kit. Opened the kit and replaced some clothes with the new ones, refilled the food section of the kit with new food items. Well packed and sealed food items have longer expiry dates, but still it is highly recommended to replace with new ones once in a while. Children were excitedly engaged in the replacing activity at home. When reminded  her about the question in the morning, our little daughter told: “Don’t take it seriously, I just asked”.

There is a moment in transcendental meditation where we feel eternity. I don’t remember exactly the quote, Swami Vivekananda used to explain the eternal moments, which is something like “The heart of this moment is eternal”. I have totally forgotten the context in which he used this proverb, but still remember the essence of his explanation. He used it to explain the eternity one achieves during meditation. There are many interpretations to this quote. Live in this moment. Why do we worry about the past, when we cannot go back and change it. Why do we worry about the future, when we cannot go forward and change it? So, be at this moment and live it to its fullest. After all, who knows what happens next moment! What we can do as human beings is to prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

Author: Jayaprakash

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