As many of you know yesterday a magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed for hours by more than 50 aftershocks, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0. (AP)
When I woke up to the news this morning, I immediately thought of my friend Reggie Austin Jr., who works and lives in the Tokyo area, ran to my laptop to find, much to my relief & delight that he was just fine and had been tweeting and face booking for hours and even managed to squeeze in a couple television interviews.
So, I asked him if he was interested in sharing his experiences with the readers of Adding Bliss & naturally, him being and AB fan himself (he was my very first face book & typepad follower) agreed. And with his careful Skyping guidance, believe it or not, I've never done it before, Reggie shared the details of what started out as a typical Friday morning in Tokyo & ended up involving shimmying superstructures, aftershocks and Sheila E.
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Michelle DuQuesnay: So what's been going on? How are you?
Reggie Austin Jr.: So, I have been on the news. I've had three interviews. I was actually on the news live in Detroit at 6:45 am (central). It's been crazy. I have a friend of mine, who I'm connected with in Detroit. She works for a news station and she said, "the news people want to talk to you" and I'm like, "What?!" So we did a Skype thing and some of my friends in London saw it, and yeah, it's pretty wild. But we're safe. We're good.
MJD: So what exactly happened? When did it start?
RAJ: It was 3:30 Friday afternoon. I actually checked my Facebook status, because I wrote, "BIG EARTHQUAKE" I typed it right away, so it was probably about 3:20 in the afternoon. I was on my way to the train station because I had to go visit a client and I passed this one building and it was shaking and I thought they were just letting it up (referring to a roll down gate used to protect shop windows) and I didn't think too much about it then got to the intersection and (realized) "Hey, stuff is moving!"
There's a huge apartment building to my right, there a company called NEC here, they have a building called Super Tower, just this huge tower, I could see it kinda, moving a bit. And here in Japan they've got an excellent earthquake system, but the buildings actually move. There was a building about a couple of meters, maybe 3 to 5 meters away (10-15 feet) and it's moving! Side to side! I was like, "This is crazy!"
I'm standing there. No traffic is moving. People are at a standstill.
It lasted for a few minutes. I walk around for like 5 or 10 minutes. I don't know what to do. I walk back to my office. When I get there all of the drawers are pulled out, a computer in our server room had fallen over and there were papers everywhere. Things had fallen off of shelves.
So, the few people in my office, we decided we needed to get to a safe place, like a park or something, and everybody was kind of hesitating. Then another one came (earthquake). And we all said, "To Hell with this we gotta go!"
So we just took off. We're about four flights up.
MJD: So there were two earthquakes?! How far apart were they? Was the second one an aftershock?
RAJ: Well, what we felt here. These were definitely two earthquakes. They were not aftershocks. They were probably 20 minutes apart. But you feel aftershocks in between. So there was the one I felt outside, then there were a few aftershocks, then there was another one.
That's when everybody was out in the streets and we went to the park area and chilled out. We were there for about 45 minutes to an hour, then back to the office for people to collect some personal things. We went to the station and it's just chaos; none of the trains are running. We were trying to figure out what were gonna do. We hung out there 20 minutes or so, Then me and one of my colleagues said, "Hey, let's go to a bar; get a drink; get some food."
MJD: Yeah, that would've been my next stop.
RAJ: We said, "Hey, look everybody. Work is over. It's Friday..."
MJD: We're all clocked out! The time clock is on the floor...
RAJ: So we hit this Chinese spot, we have a little food, drinks. And then more aftershocks, and I'm thinking, "whoa! This is crazy!"
MJD: So about the aftershocks... I've never been in an earthquake, near an earthquake. Do they (the aftershocks) feel as bad? Is it as scary? Do you think it's another earthquake or can you immediately tell the difference?
RAJ: Yeah (to the scary question), because you don't know. We were talking about the Kobe Earthquake that happened back in '95 in a different part of Japan. They said when that earthquake hit it was more like, BOOM; like an explosion. But here in Tokyo, all the ones that I've ever felt: you feel something and then you hope it stops, but today it just kept building up and you're like, "What's gonna happen? What's gonna happen?" and buildings are moving. And even with an aftershock; you don't know if it's gonna turn into another earthquake or if it's just gonna chill out.
So, it's scary.
MJD: So are there still aftershocks now?
RAJ: No, it's not bad. It's Friday night about 11:40 now, so there were a few maybe an hour and half or two hours ago we felt something, but yeah, it's pretty calm right now. Where we are in Tokyo it's pretty calm.
MJD: So where was it the worst, that you know of?
RAJ: There's an area called Sendai. It's about 300 km (about 186 miles) from Tokyo. We've been watching the news. I don't how many people died but they are said to have found about 200 to 300 bodies off the coast of Sendai. And there have been other people that have died in accidents or just around. In Tokyo, I'm not sure.
MJD: Well, I am so glad you're safe.
RAJ: Yeah, I'm good. It was scary though.
MJD: So everyone else is good? How's your son doing? Where are you now? How are you getting home?
RAJ: My son is cool. Where they are, they actually didn't feel it. They're not super far but another part of Japan, so they're safe.
The trains have just started running, but they're so packed. We're just chillin' out at my friends place right now. It's weird how he found us:
I was at the station. I'm sitting on the station floor. I got my beer; tweeting, facebooking, doing my thing. My good friend next to me was not too far away. He wanted to take a taxi (to where I was), but the taxis weren't running so he had to walk. So he walked 30 minutes and said, " I have beer for you! I have beer for you!" So I put something on Twitter & Facebook, I said, "I'm at Tamachi Station." which is close to where I work. A friend of mine replied and said, " We live 10 minutes from there. Where are you?" and I said, "Ok, well, I'm at this mall right next to the station, sitting on the floor." So me and Daisaku (sorry, if I butchered that), we were sitting on floor. We had snacks; we had beer. I put on D'Angelo's Voodoo CD, so we're just chillin' playing music and my friend comes walking up. We go back to his place, stopped at the store on way, got some refreshments. So we're cool.
MJD: Well, it's good that you're safe.
RAJ: It's weird because people in The States and people back home, they're freaking out because they don't really understand where I am in Japan. All they know is, SH!T, He's in Japan!
MJD: That's all I knew!
RAJ: Honestly, where we were, it was big! Let's be real. It was really scary but we're not near where the fires are in Chiba that's about an hour and a half away by train. It's not super far but we're not there.
Because I talked to reporters earlier asking, "When you look out of your window, what do you see?"
We don't have to worry about Tsunamis where we are. The thing I worry about are these big buildings. And there are alot of old buildings that are close to one another. There are a lot of wires that are hanging low. So if something falls over... it's bad.
MJD: Because Japan is prone to earthquakes does the construction of the buildings reflect that?
RAJ: Newer buildings are. That's why the building that I saw (NEC Super Tower) was moving. You could see it, it's on this huge base, but you can actually see it moving. So, on the one hand you think, "Ok, that's cool. It's not falling over but these are some big f*ckin' earthquakes!"
MJD: So is everything going back to normal?
RAJ: Yeah, they said the trains are running now, but we're watching the news and major station that we have to go through, they said that there are 60,000 people there, which is crazy.
60, 000 people just standing and waiting, so we said, "eh, we 'aint movin' tonight."
MJD: Why would you? You have beer, snacks, music & a place to stay.
RAJ: He's (Daisaku) getting tired. I'm up all night doing interviews & he's falling asleep.
MJD: I know you're an international celebrity. When you told me that, I said to myself, "hey, he's my friend. I want an interview!"
RAJ: You know what? Actually, you got the first face to face interview because WDIV in Detroit did a Skype session. They could see me but I couldn't see them. So this is the first real interview.
MJD: Breaking News on Adding Bliss! I love it!
RAJ:It's been so crazy, my twitter's been blowing up. I've been following a lot of musicians I love and admire for awhile. And I got a tweet from Sheila E. earlier!
MJD: GET OUTTA HERE!
RAJ: I swear to God. She's really cool. I've been following her for months. And today she sent a tweet saying she was praying for all the people in Japan, so I sent her a message saying, Peace from Japan. Then she wrote back, "Hey. Are You OK?!"
...and I said, "yea. I'm good." My voice got all high. I'm sitting here typing and talking and then I thought, wait a minute. She can't hear me!
My friend was like, "Send her a link to your blog." and I said, "Man, Sheila E. don't care about my blog!"
MJD: You never know. She might. It's a good blog.
So yeah. That was our day. And I had so much stuff I wanted to do today, then I got caught up in this...
MJD: Well, if this was the worst thing to happen to you all day, you're in pretty good shape. You got to leave work early, drink beer, hang out for a few hours...
RAJ: I was planning on doing that anyway. (laughs)The earthquake part, I didn't need.
MJD: Well, it could have always been worse.
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So, that's the story straight from Japan.
At this time, at least 45 countries (including the US) have pledged to offer aid. The Japanese government is assessing the damage done by the earthquakes and Tsunami and evaluating what aid will be necessary. I will be sure to update as soon as I hear what is needed and what we can do. In the meantime, you can visit The Red Cross website for up to the minute news & way you can help.
If you have friends or family that you are trying to locate in Japan, Reggie has clearly demonstrated that Facebook and Twitter is a great way to do this. In addition, here's a link to an article from The Red Cross website with instructions.
Reggie, in addition to being an overnight celebrity, is an amazing musician, person, music lover & writer. Check out his blog Everything is Good & Brown. And, I'm talking to you Sheila E.