A local resident has found her brother after his hometown was destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast coast last week.
Mie Boyko hadn’t heard from her brother, Narikazu Abe, since last Friday when an 8.9 earthquake and seven metre (22 feet) high tsunami leveled Sendai.
The tsunami swept nine kilometres inland, even washing out Sendai’s airport.
“I received one text message from him after saying that he was all right but that was it,” Boyko said on Sunday.
Boyko didn’t know where her brother was or if he was safe given the number of aftershocks that have been occurring.
She’s been on edge for four days, but her story has a happy ending.
“He sent me a longer e-mail on Tuesday and he’s all right,” Boyko said.
“It felt so good to know where he was and that he’s all right.”
Abe’s e-mail described how he was in Sendai when the tsunami obliterated the city.
The section of the city he is in isn’t as badly damaged as other areas, and has since had power and water restored.
“But there’s still not enough food and gasoline for people,” Boyko said.
Mie is originally from Kawasaki, Japan, but has lived in the Alberni Valley since 1996 with husband Mike and their nine-year-old son Kenji.
Mike woke his wife up after noticing something on television about the event last Friday morning.
“I knew what happened but not where it happened exactly,” he said.
Mie watched events unfold on Japanese television.
Port Alberni was under a tsunami advisory, and Mike’s employer subsequently sent its workers home for the day.
“Her (Mie) face was ghost white when I walked back into the house,” he said.
“She said ‘It’s right where my brother lives’.”
The devastation pictured on television was like watching something out of a movie.
“I was in shock after watching it — it’s like it wasn’t even real,” Mie said.
“It took about an hour to realize how big this was.”
She’s contacted another brother as well as two sisters, all of whom live in Japanese cities that weren’t affected by the quake.
“They felt the ground shake but their cities weren’t impacted,” Mie said.
“Narikazu e-mailed them saying he was sorry he didn’t contact them sooner but there’s no power where he is.”
Narikazu is a geologist by trade and his work now may keep him out of contact for some time, Mie said.
Meanwhile, she continues to watch the post earthquake events unfold, both on television and on the Internet.
SHAW Cable is offering Channel 514 for free so Japanese people in B.C. can stay informed about events in Japan, she said.
“I’ve been glued to them since and can’t leave,” she said.
The family makes a trip to Japan every year to acclimate their son with Japanese language and culture.
They were last in Japan in July of 2010 but may not make the trip this year.
“I don’t know if we’ll go now because of the issue with that damaged nuclear reactor,” Mike said.