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Things Have Changed and It's Deadly ... off-topic but life and death

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Things Have Changed and It's Deadly ... off-topic but life and death

Old 03-16-11, 02:56 AM
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Things Have Changed and It's Deadly ... off-topic but life and death

Dear Friends,

I was very close to tears when I phoned my sister in Vancouver and told her about all the support and kind things BF friends posted in my last thread. At that time I was more upbeat. Things have changed very much since then.

Below is a letter I sent to a journalist friend in Vancouver. It concerns Canadian nationals, but many of you can just pencil in American nationals British ... whoever ... because the same thing may apply to them. I just have no idea about what your governments may be doing — or in the case of Canadian Foreign Affairs not doing. Foreigners have to leave this country — now!

Many of you have asked what you might do to help. Some of you have said you wished you could do something. Well, if anyone has influence or power to move public opinion or bend the right ear, thousands of Canadians and other foreign nationals need your help or the worst might happen. If this sounds selfish, I am sorry. But when I go downstairs and look at my 14 year old son ....

Some of you may think that I am being the top. Well I am not going to go head-to-toe with trying to convince anyone. Let me say that I began reading about nuclear stuff back in 1975 or so. I have forgotten a lot, and I was never even a pinch towards being an expert. But the situation is pretty clear when 30-40 years worth of spent fuel rods is on fire and all workers have been evacuated from a totally shattered facility. I am told that some foreign TV shows pictures of an intact building. It is wrecked!

Here is the letter:
_______________________________________________

I think we may be in very grave danger here, and I am trying to think of a way out.

The situation is very critical. And I am not exaggerating this — we are probably going to die here unless the Canadian government gets us out. The situation in Fukushima is unprecedented. Over thirty years of spent fuel rods are now exposed and on fire. Reactors are just sitting hot and unattended in a totally shattered and now abandoned facility All plant personnel have been evacuated.

So far, the reaction of the Canadian government has been a tawdry farce — a total abandonment, which quite frankly what have I expected due to past experiences. One Canadian has been told, 'we'll call back — if there is a solution'. Most recently my sister called Foreign Affairs from White Rock. She was allowed to speak to a ‘volunteer’ who says that she could not speak for the Canadian government. Why is she answering the phone?

Prior to this, Judith called Foreign Affairs to register me, Mari and Shoh. The instructions they gave for our evacuation are completely out of step with reality. They basically offered no help at all. We were told to get to Narita airport. Even in normal times, arriving at Narita or any Japanese airport without reservations is extremely risky. And the instruction is basically flawed and nonsense because the entire infrastructure has been shattered. There is no direct way to Narita. And and frankly the journey is impossible.

The first stage would involve standing exposed in a one kilometre queue for reservations on a bus to a city in Eastern Japan. They even suggested that we call the tourist office about hotels. Hello — have they heard that this entire region is a very major disaster zone? The escape plan given by the Foreign Affairs would be laughable if the situation was not so possibly TERMINAL!

From Yamagata we are expected to either fly on the one or two flights that will inevitably be full already — or bus to another city so we can supposedly take a train to Tokyo. Tokyo is a two hour train ride to Narita and booked up airlines. If we get stuck on the way, we will be outdoors in the contamination zone. A Canadian friend and I are convinced that this instruction from the government is a moribund option.

I spoke to an Australian friend this morning who knows of only one family that got out — so far. They left two days ago via a flight from Morioka city in Iwate. They went to Osaka and thence to Australia. This family had pre-booked seats. I do not know had he got the fuel to get there. Sendai officials publicly said last night that they were having trouble finding fuel stocks to un there emergency vehicles. If you can get to the front of a line at a gas bar, the ration is 10 litres

Perhaps our only option is to evacuate to the American Misasawa air base north of Sendai, but without government assistance and accreditation, this is impossible. There are damaged roads, and gasoline shortages ... the express ways have been closed to civilian traffic. Local roads and bridges are very likely blocked, or broken. I have phoned around and nobody knows. If the government will not help us here, I think that we are doomed. The escape plan given by the Foreign Affairs would be laughable if the situation were not so possibly TERMINAL!

There are many Canadians here in Japan doing various things. Many of us got here as economic refugees from the economic calamity of the early 90’s. In better days, I had a conversation with the then Canadian ambassador to Japan about this. He himself had a close friend who was here for the same reason. He spoke of a wave of Canadians who had come here to find work.

If many thousands of Canadians die here, the government will look ridiculous. It will appear obvious that whereas other countries'’ ambassadors (yes actually ambassadors) and officials contacted their citizens, Canada merely allowed me contact with a volunteer in Eastern Canada who instructed us to get on a non-existent bus ride in a disaster zone — a journey that might just get us killed anyway, even as it might get us part way to nowhere.

I am trying to motivate the government in what I consider a last ditch attempt to get out before the inevitable. Since the Foreign Affairs is offering death as an option, I can only resort to publicity on the slim chance that the machinery of government will respond to public opinion. Anyone who has access to a sympathetic ear will be of help and perhaps instrumental in saving the lives of thousands of Canadians. If Canada can evacuate Libya, why not we nationals here?

That is the situation here. I wish I had better news.

I love you both very much; please hug Jackie for me,

Lorne.


PS: I have just read Prime Minister Harper's statement regarding no plans for evacuation for Canadians in Japan. I could write an essay on the callousness. As for the reality — the situation on the ground as they say these days — he is either spitting into the wind or is grossly misinformed about everything. On one hand he advises Canadians to not travel to our location (Miyagi) but in the same breathe says transportation systems out of the country are running normaly. I cannot say enough about how foolish this must sound to the 200 Canadians here in Sendai.
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Old 03-16-11, 04:46 AM
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I cannot tell you how my heart goes out to you and your family... and the tens of thousands of other families, no matter their nationalities. I have a London contact in the shipping industry who deals with the port at Sendai, please let me see what he has cooking, maybe there's some help I can give there.

Stay as safe as you can. Can you get potassium iodide and iodine?
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Old 03-16-11, 04:49 AM
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If you find anyone who may be able to get you out of the region for a price, let us know. Let's explore options.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:07 AM
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I don't have much to offer but if anyone here could start a fund to get Lento and his family out I'd contribute whatever I can.

My only other thought would be to simply carry what you can and head South, on foot if necessary but I don't even know how practical that would be.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by FORDSVTPARTS View Post
I don't have much to offer but if anyone here could start a fund to get Lento and his family out I'd contribute whatever I can.

My only other thought would be to simply carry what you can and head South, on foot if necessary but I don't even know how practical that would be.
My first thought was to 'start pedaling'. Seriously though, if immediate cash is an issue I'm sure we could round up a nice stash to send via Paypal or wire.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:20 AM
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I am strapped to the bone but will continue to work on some sort of seaborne solution. Trying to get word out on the ocean-cruisers networks, there's some mad bastards on there who would welcome this sort of challenge.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:23 AM
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There were a half dozen English teachers on NPR from Australia and England.
They basically said the same thing Lorne has said.
Their governments told them to leave, and then pretty much hung up the phone.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:40 AM
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I just emailed this link to Senators Klobuchar and Franken from Minnesota.

We need leadership from the US government at this juncture of time.

This would include a strong, measured response from President Obama.

Surely the United States government could muster a response that would include evacuation as needed.
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Old 03-16-11, 06:05 AM
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Lorne, can you give us additional contact info in case someone needs to get hold of you? PM is fine. I'm sending this off to Scott Brison, my local MP here in Nova Scotia. All of us Canadians need to do the same. We need to rattle the cages to get some immediate action.

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Old 03-16-11, 06:27 AM
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You really got the triple whammy huh? We hope you find your way out of this situation soon. It's scary for us, we can't imagine how bad it is for you.

Unfortunately, leaving the country at this time may not be the best thing to do. I'm sure there's a mad scramble to get out, and as you said you would end up in unprotected lines waiting to get into the airport. Western Japan may be the way to go. Then you can get out later.

Go west. We have some friends in the Mt. Bandai area. I know it's not real far away from the problem, but it's a start. It's also upwind and uphill which is key. If you think you can get that far, we may be able to help. After that we might be able to help with more hops further south.

The BBC is reporting online that workers are allowed back into the reactor area. We're wishing for the best. Hang in there.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:20 AM
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Warren/Clubmen ... thanks so much ... all of you. I am reading your responses and I got to yours Warren. Yes, I will PM you my contact stuff. I am registered in Ottawa and I went on the embassy site and registered there too. You can forward my contact info to any BFer or any friendly party. But I am thinking PM is best because of any lunatic lurkers we don't know. Thanks.

I am reading your suggestions — very moving. I've got my wife to agree to get out. She is 100% now which is a complete turnaround.

I have been working all day on this so I'm tired. I'll see you all later.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:30 AM
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Dear Lorne,

First, let me say how happy and relieved I am that you and your family survived the earthquake and tsunami. I am very sorry that things have take a turn for the worse in terms of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.

I would like to suggest that you consider seriously eddubal's advice. Making your way to Tokyo and getting a flight out of Narita in the near term seems like a long shot, and fraught with potential dangers. West or northwest, if you can manage it, might be a better bet. I was just reading an account from a foreign journalist who had evacuated from Fukushima to Sendai, and is now heading for Nigata and the airport there. He and his crew are driving. I have no idea whether or not this would be an option for you.

I'm sorry that, except for one friend who lives in southern Japan, I have no relatives or friends there. So, I'm not in a position to offer logistical assistance. But please know that my thoughts and prayers, as well as those of many others, are with you and your family.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:31 AM
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Go west. We have some friends in the Mt. Bandai area.
I really appreciate the suggestion, but I am not thinking that it would much of an improvement — if any. I've been to Bandai. Nice place.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:32 AM
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I just emailed this link to Senators Klobuchar and Franken from Minnesota.
WoW! Thanks so much!
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Old 03-16-11, 07:33 AM
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Lorne, thank you for keeping us informed. I keep coming back to see if there's an update, and it is a relief whenever there is. Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to hearing good news, I'll go back to lurking.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:42 AM
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There was a report on the BBC or NPR, It was in the middle of the night here when it ran, of a Japanese national who took a string of taxis to Sendai from Tokyo to check on her family, reportedly at a cost of $800 (so, probably an NPR story) Back roads were used, as the highways were for government vehicles.

Unfortunately the full extent of the situation does not appear to align with the pronouncements.

While ultimately father to travel, maybe Nagoya or Osaka as a place for final departure.
I think I would rather be in one of those two places if I had to wait for seats.

There was a report here that the FAA was considering rerouting the flight paths of American airliners inbound to Japan in the wake of what may be in the atmosphere.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:53 AM
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Lorne,

If you put your full name and at least an email address, I can forward it to journalists who can make a big story of it.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:06 AM
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Man! This is insane. I hope to God that we can find a way out for you!
I'll pass on this thread to the few canadian nationals I know. Let us know how we can help financially. I don't have much, but I'm sure if a few of us rally together we can get something happening.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:18 AM
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I contacted a newspaper reporter pal. If he is interested in the story, I'll send you his email.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:19 AM
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Lorne, is there any possibility of working your way to a port city to the north, then motoring via boat to Hokkaidō; leaving from there?

-Kurt
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Old 03-16-11, 08:22 AM
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I'm going to speak with care here because i have already got my fingers bit by suggesting the situation is worse then being reported.
I think truth be known that no one actually has any idea how to deal with this situation and they are not admiting it.
I have read that if you take iodine it can stop thyroid cancer developing due to radiation. Also i have read that radiation on you is not as bad as radiation that has been breathed in so try not to go out side unless it is important. If you do go outside in any type of radiation then throw the worn clothes away and wash your body very well. Try not to have windows open or any type or air conditioning on.
Above all just do anything you can to get out of the country and i wish i could help you but i can't think of anyway that i can.
Try to get to a canadian military camp because they will have their own transport out of there.
That's all i can think of and GOOD LUCK!
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Old 03-16-11, 08:37 AM
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We have just offered to find billets for any of the visiting athletes from Tokyo University (rowing team on training camp) who would like to stay in Hong Kong to ride out the disaster. Some of these guys don't know if all of their families are ok.

Good Luck Lenton.

I guess my planned trip to Japan in May is probably off...
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Old 03-16-11, 08:59 AM
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If a BF fund is set up to help out, I'd be happy to contribute something.
I can't offer much in the way of logistics assistance or press visibility, but I can forward this link to some others who may be able to help in those aspects.
My heart goes out to you and your family. Be well, and let's get you the hell out of there.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:09 AM
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I'm also in a position to contribute and help with a donation and will gladly write my local reps.

I can't imagine what you're going through and the fear for your family. There is nothing I can say that would be meaningful, but you have my best wishes and hopes.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
If a BF fund is set up to help out, I'd be happy to contribute something.
My heart goes out to you and your family.
+1 me too - courage!
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