Wednesday, June 19, 2013
From staff reports
As soon as Keiko Myer heard about the earthquake, the Orono resident tried calling her family in Tokyo. The calls wouldn't go through, so she e-mailed them to let her know how they were as soon as possible.
TRYING TO REACH SOMEONE?
The State Department offers these links to its consular services and how they can help Americans worried about the whereabouts of loved ones in Japan.
Consular assistance to U.S. citizens in Japan
If you have concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan, please send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov
If you have concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in the tsunami zone outside of Japan, send an e-mail at PacificTsunamiUSC@state.gov
E-mail inquiries are strongly preferred, but people may call the Department's emergency assistance center at 1-888-407-4747 (Calling from outside the U.S. + 1-202-501-4444) if they are unable to use e-mail.
Department of Defense personnel inquiries
U.S. Forces Japan reports that all personnel have been accounted for, and there are no reports of injuries.
The Department of Defense instructs that family members of Department of Defense personnel should call 1-800-342-9647 to inquire about their loved ones or contact the individual unit command directly for more specific information.
Japanese and other citizens
If you are calling regarding a Japanese citizen, contact the nearest Japanese Embassy (Washington - 202-238-6700) or Consulate.
If you are calling regarding a citizen of a third country, please contact that country's embassy or consulate. Contact information for foreign embassies and consulates in the United States is available in the Country Specific Information links at www.travel.state.gov
"I didn't know what to do because I couldn't reach anybody. That scared me so much," said Myer, who works at the University of Maine's purchasing department and takes classes there. Myer moved to Maine from Tokyo in 2003.
Myer's sister called about 15 minutes later. Myer was able to talk to her parents a couple of hours later and then get word about her two brothers.
It was the strongest earthquake the family had experienced. Her sister said should couldn't stand during the quake and her mother had to hold on to something for support. Public transportation wasn't working, so her brother had to borrow a bicycle and ride 15 miles home. Her parents' one-hour commute stretched to five hours because the roads were packed.
Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Rockland, who returned last week with her son, Takuma, 3, from a visit to her home and family in Sendai, the epicenter of the quake, spent the morning trying to get through to her family with no luck.
But she is hoping for the best, said her husband, Joe Steinberger. His wife was not immediately available to talk. He said the worst of the devastation happened along the coast from the tsunami and doesn’t appear to have reached Sendai, about 20 kilometers inland.
He said his wife has not been able to communicate with her family but did manage to exchange an e-mail with some friends not far from where her mother lives. Steinberger said it appears the area has escaped major damage.
Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, who owns Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland, moved to Maine about eight years ago.
David Langley is a Mainer who has been working at an engineering company in Osaka, south of Tokyo, since December. His parents are state Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, and his wife, Jane. Osaka is about 700 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.
"He felt the earthquake but there's no damage where he is," Jane Langley said this morning. She had been Skyping with her son for a few hours, since her father called her around 7 a.m. to find out how his grandson fared in the tsunami that followed the quake.
David Langley is a design engineer at Diamond Electric, where he's working on electric car technology, his mother said. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor last May with a mechanical engineering degree and a minor in Japanese.
"Tremors are a part of everyday life for other people in his office, but he hasn't gotten used to them yet," his mother said. "He's mostly concerned about getting around if something happens because he dislocated his knee playing soccer last week, so he has a leg brace and crutches."
Jane Langley said she's feeling OK, knowing that he's safe. "I'm mostly worried because his knee hurts so much," she said.
The families of all five Japanese students studying at the University of Southern Maine appear to be safe, said Kaoru Phillips, coordinator of student services at the Office of International Programs at the University of Southern Maine.
But there were some tense moments as the students scrambled to get in touch with their families, she said.
“One was really worried about his grandpa,” Phillips said
Phillips is a native of Chiba, Japan, about a four-hour drive from the earthquake's’ epicenter. She said she was relieved to find her own family back home was safe, after her husband woke her up in the night with news of the quake. She eventually reached them by telephone.
“My father was at the supermarket. He said he never felt so strong an earthquake,” said Phillips, who came to USM in 1984 as a student.