Yesterday afternoon I was in the studio putting handles on some vessels, when the floor shifted under my feet as if I were riding a train. The house began to rattle and shake, pots began to fall from the shelves and the vibration became a roar. I opened the door and rushed outside, turning back to look at the house as I went. It was swaying, like bamboo in the wind. I turned to see the kiln chimney swing left and right, somehow not collapsing but widening cracks appearing up its length. When the roof tiles came sliding off the roof I began to run; the children were at school.
I ran the seven hundred yards to the primary school, the children were already in the middle of the...the house shakes again as I write...play ground, the teachers herding them to safety. The children are crying and... my god that is another earthquake...it's OK, we thought we might need to get the kids out of their beds...that wasn't an after shock, that was another earthquake...the teachers were trying to contact people on their mobiles but there was no service. I can see Canaan and Rohan, they are safe. The ground is still moving like a raft, the teachers tell me parts of the ceiling have fallen in the school but the children and staff are all evacuated accounted for and safe. Rohan's teacher has a son at the pre school with Sean, I tell her I am going there and tell the boys to stay with their teachers. I run.
The house and kiln are still standing. A cold wind is chilling the children. I set up a tin stove in the back yard and go inside the house alone to get the kids ski ware. The inside of the house is a mess of broken pottery and glass. Sora looks after the boys outside while I assess the damage. No power, no water, no phone. The roof is a shambles, the back wall of the studio and house is shattered but still standing, the bathroom is a disaster. I get the kids a warm drink and some snacks, then start to clean up inside before it gets too dark. As dusk approaches Mika arrives home. Mashiko was hit hard too, the museum and many houses. All the climbing kilns are damaged but there seem to be no casualties. There was a bus of American tourist at the museum when the earthquake hit and she couldn't leave until they were safe. We are all in tears as we hug. We are safe. We are home.
We get the house functional, I rejoin the stove chimneys and we get the house warm. We break out the emergency water supplies and I get a hot meal on the table by candle light. We send the kids to bed in their clothes, just in case we need to evacuate in the middle of the night. Aftershocks continue, sometimes minutes apart, sometimes half an hour. As we listen to the radio a picture of how wide the devastation is, and how lucky we have been, begins to form.
After a sleepless night, we face a new day. The town is providing emergency water and food at the town hall. Friends come to share what they have, we clean up as best we can and go to help others. We finally contact Mika's family, they are safe.
Houses can be repaired or rebuilt, kilns too. Pottery can be replaced, remade. Stuff doesn't really matter. We'll manage somehow. My family, my loved ones, are safe and sound. They sleep in the next room as I write this to you. I thank God. We are the lucky ones, and my heart and prayers go out to those who are not.