Students experience Japan disaster, relief efforts begin

When the 8.9-magnitude earthquake shook northeast Japan on March 11, USU sophomore Brett Stevenson was on a boat in Tokyo, and said he saw and felt things there he will never forget. The intensity of the quake caused a 33-foot tsunami that wiped out the majority of Sendai, affecting an area where more than 2 million people live. Furthermore, two of Japan’s nuclear power plants have been severely damaged and are causing radiation sickness. An estimated 10,000 have been recorded dead. Stevenson is now safe in Logan, and said the chaos he witnessed while in Tokyo is still difficult to believe. “It was really weird because we went out that night to walk around the streets and see what was going on and there were just thousands on the street stranded because all the public transportation was down,” Stevenson said. “They were walking four to five hours to get home that night.” Misu Zu, a junior in biology, has been keeping in close contact with her family that lives in Tokyo, which is located about 200 miles south of Sendai. Zu is an exchange student at USU for the spring semester, and said she is scared for her friends in Sendai. She has not heard from any of them, but has found hope that they are safe. “I couldn’t believe it the first time I heard it because I have never experienced such an earthquake,” Zu said. “The biggest I experienced is level three or four (on the Richter scale).” Zu’s parents told her entire bookshelves toppled and two big lights fell from the ceiling and shattered across the ground. Her neighbor’s roof caved in completely. A group of 16 USU business students were sitting in a meeting in Kyoto when they started to feel the quake, however, those conducting the business meeting assured them earthquakes similar happened often, said Robyn Renee, a graduate student studying business administration. “We didn’t see much of the repercussions until we went over to Tokyo,” Renee said. “We were trying to get to the airport and had to take a bus and got really lucky as far as transportation goes.”

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