While many Mineola residents have viewed the catastrophic events of last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ensuing nuclear crisis unfold on their televisions and on the internet, one former resident of the village was actually there to witness the events firsthand.
Tim Yoshida is a former resident of Mineola and graduate of Mineola Junior High School. He lived in Mineola for 3 years, attending Mineola High School as a freshman before moving on and graduating from Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington. He left for Japan shortly after receiving his diploma, enrolling at Sophia University in Tokyo where he got his BA in Anthropology and Sociology.
On the day of the 8.0 magnitude quake, Yoshida was on the sixth floor of the office building where he works at a public relations firm, arranging a business trip to Osaka for later that day.
Yoshida recalled the horizon began to gently sway, continuing to intensify until furniture, desks and office equipment began to fall violently around him. That’s when he decided to leave the building.
He managed to make it outside for the initial aftershocks. In an email, Yoshida said that he had never before seen utility poles and buildings shake and bend before that day.
Following evacuations of commercial buildings in Tokyo, workers were told to go home. However, since all public transportation was shut down, Yoshida walked the 20 kilometers to his home in Western Tokyo, along with thousands of other people.
When he arrived at his home, Yoshida said that nothing could have prepared him for the images of decimated villages being swept out to sea when he turned on his television.
Due to the enormous amount of cell phone activity, Yoshida with not able to reach family and friends by phone. Instead he managed to get messages through by using his Facebook page.
The dynamic of Tokyo has changed in the last week. Yoshida says there is no milk, no toilet paper and people are stockpiling items. Because of the increased levels of radiation from the meltdown, vegetables are banned. Yoshida laments that that he won’t be able to have a nice salad for a while.
The Japanese government has warned the population within 50 km of the power plant to stay indoors and has evacuated those within a 30 km radius, which is at odds with what the U.S. ambassador is advising. The consul has asked the Japanese government to extend the evacuation to those living within 80 km.
When asked if he has plans to leave Japan, Yoshida says he intends to stay put, admitting that while the situation can be frightening, he plans to ride it out until the people risking their lives to stop the reactors from melting down have fixed the problem or they can do no more.
Stoically, he sums up how he feels by relating a phone call his friend received from his mother back in Ohio telling him to come home.
The friend said: “this is my home.”