Student struggles to reach family in Japan

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    Junior accounting major Cathy Lammers said communicating with her family in Japan, located 35 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been difficult because of downed phone lines.

    Lammers said her aunt, uncle and cousin were forced to evacuate their hometown of Fukushima because they did not have water. She added that she has been following the news, but feels helpless about the situation.

    “I don’t even know what to do,” she said. “Yeah, I could donate money online, but I still see all these people that have lost literally everything. It’s just hard seeing the pictures and videos of peoples’ lives literally being washed away.”

    According to the Associated Press, Japan’s police agency reported a death toll of 9,800 as of Thursday morning. Another 17,500 were missing.

    Lammers, who went to school in Tokyo until she was eight years old, said she felt the entire country had gained a greater sense of nationalism after the disaster.

    “They all share this mentality of helping each other out and doing things for the greater good,” Lammers said.

    One TCU alumnus living in Japan wrote in an email that his family and friends were all safe, but he has realized the severe impact the disaster had on his country.

    Keita Aoyama lives in the city of Aichi, approximately 380 miles from where the earthquake hit. Aoyama wrote in an email that nothing had changed dramatically for him personally, but many refugees were suffering from a lack of food, water and electricity.

    “I personally realized that kind of tragedy can happen in real life, not only in a film,” Aoyama wrote.

    Two weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Aoyama wrote that the country was afraid of a nuclear power incident. Officials in Tokyo warned that children under the age of one should not drink tap water because of the radiation levels in the city’s water supply, Aoyama wrote.

    Additionally, Aoyama wrote that he was worried about the potential for earthquakes in his city. He wrote that many scientists predicted the next large earthquake would hit Aichi.

    “All we can do is to learn from this tragedy and prepare,” Aoyama wrote.

    Yumiko Keitges, instructor of Japanese, said she knew of three former TCU students currently living in Japan. Keitges said one lives near the epicenter in Iwate Prefecture, but all three were safe.

    Keitges said there were no TCU students studying abroad in Japan currently, but the disaster has impacted current students.

    Senior graphic design major Aki Omikawa, a student whose family is originally from Chiba Prefecture, Japan, said her family and friends were safe, but also mentioned the impact the disaster had on the country as a whole.

    “I think they’re upset and surprised,” Omikawa said. “They weren’t ready for that.”

    Omikawa also said the magnitude of the earthquake was hard to comprehend. She said earthquakes in Japan are common, but she was very surprised when she first saw the news about this disaster.