04 March 2023

Mother Nature Will Have Her Way

Japan is a highly developed, wealthy, highly cultured and thoroughly modern nation. Japan is also no stranger to earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact, Japan leads the world in earthquake-resistant construction techniques, earthquake prediction, and advanced warning systems, and the entire Japanese population is highly tuned to the threats of both earthquakes and tsunamis. They live with earthquakes as part of their daily lives, they plan for them, run endless drills to respond to them, and have built their infrastructure to be earthquake resilient.

And yet... March 11th, 2011. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake 70 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula, deep in the Pacific Ocean, instantly overwhelmed Japan's ability to respond. Now known as the Great Tohoku Earthquake, it was the most violent ever recorded in Japan, and the resulting tsunami crested at over 130 feet in some areas. To make matters worse, a 50' high wall of water hit the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, knocking cooling systems off-line and ultimately causing a melt-down in three of its four reactor cores. Japan is still dealing with the mess today.

I recently stumbled on this video put together in 2021 by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK. It is 49 minutes of mostly raw, unedited film footage of the disaster, and the few days following. It's clear the Japanese authorities, despite their best efforts, were immediately overwhelmed. Nothing could have prepared them for a disaster of this scope and scale. In the video you'll witness food & water shortages, shelter shortages, fuel shortages, medical shortages, even shortages of blankets and warm clothing (at one point workers at a shelter was pulling curtains off the windows to use as blankets), 

I don't care how good FEMA or your state and local EMAs are, at some point nature will rear her ugly head and we'll be dealing with a situation that quickly spins out of control. The Japanese learned the hard lesson: Mother Nature will have her way. This is San Francisco (1906 earthquake), New Orleans (Hurricane Katrina), Puerto Rico (Hurricane Maria). Each time the authorities were confident they could handle it. Each time, Mother Nature made fools of them.

What's the point in all of this? Preparedness. Not just communications, but preparedness and security in all its aspects. Food & water security, shelter security, energy & power security, financial security, physical and personal security. Watch the video. Absorb the lessons. 

W8BYH out

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