JA7COI: Update from Japan

Even in a very difficult situation, such as japan is suffering in the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake, devastating tsunami and the continued leak at the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant, it’s good to get news from afar regarding a friend.

While I have never met Ichiro, JA7COI, I feel I have a unique friendship with him all because of ham radio. It was in 1976 my father, at the time, W6ONV worked JA7COI in a contest and some 30 years late I, as W6ONV received a QSO card.

Since that time I have worked Ichiro on numerous bands using numerous modes and it is always a special QSO. I think even now, as Japan recovers from the earthquake, I have a stronger relationship with Ichiro. Thankfully he updated me and all the other hams he knows yesterday on his QRZ.com profile:

We had extremely heavy earthquake on 2011/Mar/11th. The direct damages were so serious in the area faced to the Pacific. On the shore side in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefecture, 20,000 people or more were swept away by the tsunami. Whole of some cities (people, houses, buildings) was carried away to the sea. Number of victims are not sure yet because the basic resident registers were lost. One of estimated heights of tsunami was 23meters. Huge numbers of victim are still under the wreckage and sea. The search does not go quick because the field is very wide and damaged. The total victims may increase to 40 or 50 thousands. Other big problem is the accidents in nuclear power station in Fukushima. It has serious stage of radiation leak. Huge number of people lost their houses. About 200,000 refugees are taking simple shelters which are hurriedly set in public buildings. The lack of food, fuel and medicine afflicts them. JARL HQ has been taking very quick action to keep the emergency traffic. You can visit  the unbelievable scenes on http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/jishin0311/.

My QTH Akita is located in the opposite side to the Pacific. So, all of my family had no direct damage by the tsunami in spite of very strong earthquake. Heavy aftershocks are still continuing now though half month passed. I check the radiation of atmosphere by GM-counter every day. But I have no abnormal count at all. My ham radio equipment has no damage, but I have been keeping QRT to save energy. We will overcome the disaster. I am alive.

I believe the last sentence holds all that is important, “I am alive.” While I did not QSO with JA7COI during WPX a week ago, it is great to know he, his family and friends are doing okay. I look forward to working Ichiro in the future. Always a special QSO for me. 73.

When All Else Fails…

One of the motto’s of amateur radio is, “When all else fails…” In disasters like the 8.9 magnitude earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, it’s times like these hams excel and come to the forefront. While I don’t participate in EMCOMM or belong to any of the local groups, it only takes a moment to ask yourself, “Are you prepared?” as is relates to you and your family if you are suddenly thrust into a natural disaster, like that of an earthquake or tsunami.

After the birth of my son in 2005 I went through a period of panic as I knew I was not prepared, especially if an earthquake were to strike the bay area, which many know and understand is near a major fault. Living in California since 1971, I have been through a wide range of earthquakes and while some might not understand the logic, earthquakes are just something you come to live with. Much like tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes down in the Gulf Coast or Florida.

Since that time I have given a moment of thought to being prepared. I now have 3 days of rations and an emergency “go kit” available to me. I have my portable radio changed and ready at all times. I even provisioned our vehicles with much smaller (fanny pack) type emergency kits. But looking at it realistically, I am far from being prepared to deal with a 8.9 quake, if it were to hit on the San Andreas Fault causing major damage, fire and possible tsunamis.

Thankfully it is never too late to start planning or continue planning for an emergency plan. Today’s quake in Japan will have be reevaluating my emergency go kit, as well as what else I can do in order to prepare my family and myself when a natural disaster strikes.

Frequenting conspiracy web sites such as Godlike Productions and Above Top Secret have increased my awareness of events worldwide that could have consequences. I have read many threads regarding “being prepared” and how to go about building your own “go kits.” To what level you want to take your preparedness to is entirely up to you. My initial plan was supply for 3 days (72 hours). Unfortunately, I won’t rely on the government initially (as witnessed by the SNAFU after Hurricane Katrina), so I will be responsible for my family and myself.

After the Honshu, Japan quake I will be reevaluating my readiness so I am not caught unprepared when something major happens. Final word, my thoughts and prayers go out to all my friends I have talked to in Japan. Hopefully they all make it through and we hear them across the airwaves soon.