E-Net News

Elon alumna Keiko Sudani '08 describes the earthquake in Japan

Keiko Sudani '08, who teaches at a school in Tokyo, has sent a message to the Elon community describing her experiences in the March 11 earthquake. Keiko is the sister of Asami Sudani '06 who previously shared an account of her experiences. Read this note for Keiko's letter to Elon.

Keiko Sudani at her 2008 graduation from Elon University.

I was at my school teaching when the first big earthquake hit. At first, I thought that it was just another usual earthquake, so I told my students “it’s going to be fine,” but then, it started getting bigger and bigger, so I began feeling it might not be ok.

I opened the classroom door to ensure the escape door and made everyone go under the desks. I was standing while the building was still shaking, trying to figure out if I also needed to get under a table. I felt like I was in a ship in stormy sea and could not control myself, but to let myself move as the floor moved. Since we have earthquakes all the time in Japan, it is normal to experience small quakes. However, when I felt this quake, I soon realized that this one was definitely different. I have never experienced such a big and long quake.

I began to wonder if the school was going to collapse. Once the earthquake started calming down, we evacuated from the school building. Many of my students were crying and got seasick because these students are international students and had never experienced earthquakes in their homelands. We could not believe what just happened to us. Everyone was trying to call their parents and friends, but the phone lines were down, which made us more nervous and frightened. Some of my students checked their iPhones for news, and we discovered that the quake was a magnitude of 8.9 in Tohoku area.

Since train and subway systems were shut down in Tokyo, we could not go home for awhile. There was heavy traffic and it looked like walking was a faster way to go home. Streets were packed with people trying to walk home. Later, I heard that some people spent 8 or 10 hours walking home because they could not get hold of their families and they were worried. Luckily, some subways, including my line, started working at the late night, so I was able to go home by midnight. However, a lot of people had to stay in their offices or hotels. I can say that it was a tough night for everyone in Tokyo.

When I got home, I turned on TV and was shocked to find out about the devastating damages the tsunami had caused. This huge earthquake has led to one of the biggest natural disasters in history.

Almost two weeks have passed since the earthquake occurred; we are still having countless aftershocks even today in the Tohoku and Kato areas. Every time earthquake warnings ring on our cell phones, I freak out. We have also been frightened by the nuclear power plants in Fukushima. In addition to that, we are facing serious electricity shortage, so Tokyo Electric Power Company decided to launch planned blackouts in selected residential areas in Kanto area. These areas have been facing blackouts in certain times throughout days every day.

These troubles make it difficult to bring our lives back to normal. Many disaster victims are still suffering from excessive stress from not having comfortable conditions at evacuation shelters in Tohoku area. Many people lack medicines, heating devices, spare clothes, water and foods. Anxiety must be building up among the survivors with each passing day. Peoples’ lives in Tokyo seem to be getting better, but there are still empty shelves for certain products in stores and restaurants are operating with reduced lights.

I believe it will take a great effort and time to go back to normal, but with all the support from the foreign countries and cooperation from people outside of the afflicted areas, I strongly believe we can make it through this tough time!

Thank you for your concern and support.
Keiko Sudani

Dan Anderson,
4/4/2011 2:52 PM