Japanese citizens have been on edge for the past week, following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the northern portion of the country. The earthquake itself caused minimal damage, but citizens are fearing a potential tsunami in its aftermath. While all this is going on, the nation is still assessing the cost of damages incurred form the monster 2011 quake, and it's looking pricey.
The 2011 earthquake was a 9.0 magnitude, making it the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan, and the 4th most powerful earthquake in the world since 1900 (when record-keeping began). The subsequent tsunami caused nuclear accidents at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, forcing hundreds of area residents to evacuate. An additional 4.4 million households in the region were left without electricity, and an additional 1.5 million were left without water.
The carnage from the latest quake has been held to a minimum, which is great considering that Japan is still trying to foot the bill from 2011. The cost of closing the nuclear power station alone is now estimated at nearly $200 billion, while decontamination costs are set to double to $44.5 billion. But the biggest fear remains that of potential cancer-causing agents affecting locals, especially children. The nuclear reactor Fukushima experienced a meltdown in 2011 not unlike the incident in Chernobyl in 1986.
This time around, Japan was ready. Evacuation orders were issued quickly and were not questioned by locals, since 2011 remains fresh in their minds. Also, most of Japan's nuclear power plants had been shut down since the 2011 disaster, including the Fukushima Daini power station. But despite these necessary precautions, there remains a fear that mother nature could still have larger plans in the way of a tsunami.
My good friend and his girlfriend were staying in Tokyo during the ordeal. As soon as I heard about the earthquake, I emailed him right away. Thankfully, he was fine, although he claims it was the biggest jolt he's ever felt. I suppose anything over a 6.0 should feel pretty substantial, but 7.0 and above is an entirely different ballgame.
So where are we at as far as death toll from the quake? As of Saturday it was at 41, which is still too many. But compared to the 15,891 confirmed deaths from the 2011 quake, it's basically child's play.
Americans all along the west coast should learn from these tragedies in Japan, so they can be prepared when a large scale earthquake hits their own shores. There's no such thing as being overly prepared. The Los Angeles area, in particular, is due for a blast of epic proportions.
Hopefully, Japan 2011 isn't replicated. But in case it is, now's the time to get your survival kit ready. Get together enough Capri Sun and canned fruit to last you many days.