Japanese have always been prepared for Earthquakes, and the following Tusnamis were also, always something to be ready for. Ask any Japanese and you would hear earthquake evacuation drills were just an integrated experience of growing up in Japan. And it is just common sense to look over the ocean and to run to higher grounds if you see unusual water movement.
We have been expecting an earthquake like this one, or many many years. Andrew Alden’s article on the long-time predicted “Tokai Earthquake of 20**” explains this very well.
Yes, we all knew too well that a major one was eventually to come, in a yet-to-be-predicted-time. When this earthquake happened, everybody did the right thing.
1. Wait out to see how the quake goes.
2. Move to a safer spot (expecting some aftershocks).
3. Be ready for a Tsunamis (if by the ocean).
4. Also be aware of landslide risks.
However, I am now learning that there were still some more threats to expect. (And honestly I am not sure if we could realistically prepare for all these, even if we knew.) To name them:
1. Nuclear power plant failure.
The “third catastrophe” of this earthquake was not under the radar for many, and we now all of a sudden having to face this fear. There has always been critics and warnings about “potential” risks (as with any topics), however, the danger has all of a sudden became a reality.
2. Increased Chance of Volcanic Activities
3. The Long-term, Repeating After-Shocks
I never knew that many, many, major aftershocks were to be expected until I read the following article, perhaps due to ignorance. It actually only makes sense that there would be, if you think about how much tension and force has been stocked up that caused the major quake at the first place.
4. Post-Disaster Mental Health: Grief, and Fear
(Since I cannot control the NPP, volcanoes, or earth shells, this is a topic/area I’d like to further look into if there is anything I could do for my people.)
From another article Andrew Alden has posted, “Great Cascadia Earthquake of 2***” (a predicted major earthquake along the ring of fire), even one of the most earthquake-prepared citizens can learn a great deal. Going through this list he provides, it almost seems he so precisely prophesized the outcome of our experience.
Strong shaking will last for 4 minutes, killing and injuring thousands. (I hear that the initial shaking lasted an hour, one after another)
A tsunami up to 10 meters high will wash over the coast within minutes.
Much of coastal Route 101 will be impassable due to wave and landslide damage.
Parts of the coast will be cut off from inland cities when the roads are buried. Roads through the Cascades may likewise be blocked.
For rescue, first aid, and immediate relief most places will be on their own.
Utilities and transportation in the I-5/Highway 99 corridor will be disrupted for months.
Cities may have “significant fatalities” as tall buildings collapse. (Perhaps for “older buildings” in Japan)
Aftershocks will continue for years, some of them large earthquakes in themselves.
He also writes:
Magnitude-9 quakes differ from smaller ones in two distinct ways: they last longer and they have more low-frequency energy. They don’t shake any harder, but the greater length of shaking causes more destruction. And the low frequencies are more effective at causing landslides, damaging large structures and exciting water bodies. Their power to move water accounts for the fearsome threat of tsunamis, both in the shaken region and on coastlines near and far (see more on tsunamis).
After the strain energy is released in great earthquakes, whole coastlines may subside as the crust relaxes. Offshore, the ocean floor may rise. Volcanoes may respond with their own activity. Low-lying lands may turn to mush from seismic liquefaction and widespread landslides may be triggered, sometimes creeping along for years afterward. These things may leave clues for future geologists.
The only thing that was missing from his list was, the risk of Nuclear Power Plants failure.
I am not convinced this current earthquake that is now happening is “The Tokai Eartquake.” As of writing, there was another M6 after-quake in Japan about an hour ago. Which means, we may still be waiting for another MAJOR one right by Japan alone. I am certain, Japan will be well equipped/prepared to handle a NPP failure next time however.