FAMU Graduate Reflects on Japan Quake


Several disasters are striking Japan and while the crisis is thousands of miles away, one Rattler can relate first-hand to the record-breaking disaster.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the troubles at several of the nuclear plant’s reactors were set off when last week’s earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and ruined backup generators needed for their cooling systems. This added a major nuclear crisis to Japan’s plate, as it already struggled to deal with twin natural disasters that killed more than 10,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Robyn Mizelle, a Florida A&M graduate from the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, is living in Japan. With the recent earthquake, aftershocks and Japan’s power plant meltdown, Mizelle gives details in the midst of tragedy. This is her story.

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The sun shone brightly in the Northwest. The chill in the mixed late winter and early spring air was being invisibly funneled around the inside of the tiny, 4-wheel machine referred to as a Japanese car. I recited the lyrics to the song I was listening to as I waited for the early afternoon traffic jam to clear.

Slowly, we crept along those four lanes as the signal gave us 30 seconds to go before returning to the color that always annoys me when I’m in a rush: red. But, that day was different. I wasn’t so much in a rush, as I was just annoyed with the traffic. I saw the bridge ahead and I hoped that I wouldn’t get stopped at the center of the bridge during traffic. Instead, I wanted to be in the line of cars able to make it off the bridge before the light changed again.

I don’t like being on a bridge in traffic. Bridges are fine to look at and drive across, but not to stop on. I loathe being suspended in the center of bridges.

The light turned green. I didn’t let off the brake to push the gas. I continued to hold the brake down so as to not ram the car in front of me then traffic finally began to creep along. We slowly moved up the bridge. As we cruised, the car slowly started jumping. I passed it off as a result of the “stop and go” of traffic.

We reached the center of the bridge, the top. The light turned yellow. Traffic had once again come to a halt. But my car had not. The jumping continued. I thought to myself that maybe the engine was having problems, although every fiber of my being was hoping it was not.

I looked up. I saw the street signs shaking oddly enough to look like they weren’t being blown in the wind. I told myself, “it’s just the wind.”

Looking around further to the building signs and other street signs, I saw them shake as well. Then I noticed the buildings in slight, slow-tortoise like wave motions. I knew that telling myself that it was just the wind, was just a lie.

The word “Earthquake,” escaped my lips in a whisper so soft I barely recognized it, but then the shaking of the entire bridge definitely brought that whisper to an audible sound: “Jesus, please just let me get to the bottom of the bridge!”

The light turned green. The car bounced and the shaking intensified.

The jumping cars that were around me at the top of the bridge, become the bouncing cars around me at the top of the bridge, but we’d made it to the bottom.

Dealing with aftershocks

This experience for me is not yet over. Earth’s plates have to get back in place. But when that will occur, no man knows. However, expectations are that it will occur within the next one to three days. Rolling blackouts will begin tomorrow in order to conserve energy, and due to the nuclear plant explosions, we are now advised to wear masks, among other things.

There is so much going on right now it’s just completely overwhelming. Never had I ever considered, that I’d experience one of the top five biggest earthquakes recorded in just over 100 years. And I’m ever so thankful that I was not at its core.

School News Editor Matthew Richardson contributed to this article