This is the email I sent to family last night.....
Hello everyone. This info is pretty disorganized but it will give you an idea of our experiences yesterday.
I just want to email you what I've been writing down - but too tired to edit anymore tonite.
Friday, March 10, 2011 - the day of the earthquake
Scott, Debbie, Mike Raymond, Brett Stevenson, Dexter Bowen and Erika Baldwin are visiting Gary and Lesa Stevenson and Kyle who live in Tokyo.
We had several options of things to do today. We decided to all stay together and visit the Senso-ji shrine and market at an area in Tokyo called Akasakusa...(except Kyle who had to go to school and Gary who had to go to work for a while this morning). From there we planned to go to a pier on the river and get on a tourist river boat cruise that would end up in an area on the bay called Odiva where we would meet Gary for lunch and then drive home with him in the van.
Scott started the day extra early by getting up at 4:30 am to go to the Tokyo Fish Market. Debbie and Mike decided to stay home and attend the 8:00 am temple session in the Tokyo temple. Scott got back in time to go to the session too and we really enjoyed a it in Japanese with headphones for Scott and Debbie.
We then all (Lesa, Brett, Dex, Erika, Scott, Debbie and Mike) got in the van and went to Akasakusa. The market street was filled with people and was actually sunshiney and a bit warm. (It has been cold this week.) We all bought gifts to take home. At the shrine/Buddahist temple, it was interesting to watch the people worship and pray.
We were on the tourist boat for about an hour seeing the city of Tokyo from the water. Suddenly there was a huge ball of smoke around the Odiba area off in the distance. Scott and Mike were taking pictures and commented that the smoke was ruining their photos. We talked about Gary being over there waiting and wondered what was going on. The boat route had us stopping at a dock and changing boats then continuing on to Odiba where Gary was waiting with the van. As we got off the boat the boat workers excitedly told us there had just been an earthquake and we had to move away from the river in case there were waves up the banks. All of the tourists from the boat just sort of stood around wondering what we should do. Lesa saw two taxis at the curb and ran over and told them to wait. She grabbed all of us and had us get in the cabs and get home.
Gary said the van was shaking so hard that it felt it would possibly tip over. The people in the car next to him got out, so he got out. He could see inside the buildings that the lights were swinging. He quickly called Brett before the cell lines went out and told Brett to have all of us go home to the apt. Then Gary got in his van and headed home. Gary continues: "I got back in the car and it started to bounce and move and then I got a hold of Brett and said to go home and then I raced home and I got on the rainbow bridge and the upper level closed down and I got on the lower level." Gary said: "I got behind a couple of emergency vehicles And I got right on their trail and followed them out of the roundabout and when I was coming thru the city I saw that everyone in the whole city had evacuated the buildings." We got home in our taxis and were overjoyed when Gary walked in from his ride home.
We walked into Gary and Lesa's apartment and were shocked at how many things had falledn down. Most of the books in their four sided bookcase, vases and pots off of shelves, china and crystal from the china cabinet. A big dresser tipped over and the food from the pantry and cupboards fallen all over the floor. It was sad to see and Lesa was sick and almost in tears. She stayed strong throughout. They are on the 5th floor. On the second floor where Scott and I are sleeping (the apt of Elder Che who is out of town) there was no damage or fallen stuff.
News on TV at 8pm. Epicenter of quake was 130 km east of Sendai greatest impact was along the coast with a 33 foot tsunami in sendai.
Gary came for dinner at 7:45 pm and said.....
The area office is calling each missionary by their cell phone. We are moving all of Japan missionaries to the inland away from coast.
All this time Kyle has been on his school bus trying to get home. He is about thee hours away but moving slowly. He Facebooked Brett to say that they are stopping for dinner. He can't call or text because the cell lines are down but he can get Internet on his phone so he is communicating by Facebook.
Kyle got home after seven hours on the bus. We were all so relieved when he walked in.
More Gary reporting...
"We Divided the job of reaching the stakes and missions and employees with the area staff.
Everyone (about 8 people) has an assignment at area headquarters to contact missions or stakes. They are meeting hourly until everyone has complete clearance on buildings. missionaries, and members. I have a meeting at eight and every hour after that.
Mike, Dex and Brett went out to the neighborhood store and got back and said the store shelves are empty.
We are all just sitting around here watching TV and feeling small aftershocks. The city is in chaos. it's 10:30 pm which is 6:30 am for you. Gary will be at the office all night I expect. Everyone is just in wait mode to see what will happen in the next few hours and days. Will Brett and Dex be able to fly home Sunday and us Monday? Will the subways and trains start moving? Will we be able to go anywhere tomorrow? (We were going to be going to Sendai), We are grateful for many things.
1. That the earthquake came today while we were all together in Tokyo (except Gary and Kyle ) and not tomorrow because tomorrow Scott Debbie and Mike would be in Sendai and Gary would also be up north at a stake conference.
2. That we were on the boat cruise and not somewhere that would have been dangerous. (Although ironic that it was the biggest earthquake in Japan history and we were in Japan and didn't feel it because of being on the river).
3. That we were on the boat and not at Disneyland - which the kids were thinking about. There were 50,000 people at Disneyland and they all had to be evacuated but there were no subways or trains in service which most of them took to get there. It had to have been chaos and we were grateful that the kids weren't in it.
4. That Gary was able to get across the Rainbow bridge safely - there was a huge metal bar across one section of the bridge road which came down shuttling traffice to one lane and still he was able to get through.
5. That Lesa has lots of food and water on hand because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.
6. That no one was sitting at the dining table in front of the china cabinet when all the dishes and crystal came crashing down. ps
One sad thing for me is that we were going to go to the DISH store tomorrow. A huge store filled with dishes. And lots of blue and white dishes... my favorite. I wonder how the Dish Store looks tonight?