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Auburnite talks about crisis in Japan

Country ran out of body bags, coffins, speaker says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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J.J. Tadlock thought it was just another earthquake until he went inside and watched the news. Tadlock, 19, an Auburn resident, was living in Japan, three or four hours from Tokyo, when the 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck on March 11. Citizens in Tadlock’s location experienced a 7.0 magnitude quake. Tadlock, who is half Japanese, was staying with some of his mother’s relatives and working in a pet shop and mechanic shop. He had been living in Japan since September and had returned for another three-month stint after visiting his family in the United States. Tadlock described his experiences at a Gold Country Rotary Club meeting Thursday afternoon. Tadlock was outside working when the quake hit. “I decided to take a break, go inside and everyone was watching the news,” he said. Tadlock said people were being told to evacuate and 30 minutes to an hour later the tsunami hit. “It reminded me of a kid playing in the bathtub with toys, just pushing stuff over no problem,” Tadlock said. After the destruction Tadlock recalls seeing cars on top of houses and ships in the street. Tadlock and his family were not harmed because they were living at a higher elevation. Tadlock described traveling to a store in pitch-blackness because power outages had begun at nighttime. “It was pretty intense and once I was in the shop, all the foods were sold out,” he said. Tadlock said there was also a fire at the oil company. “Everybody got nervous, so they decided to buy gas all at the same time,” Tadlock said. The gas stations ran dry, and when he was going to the airport to leave the country he drove past a station that did have gas. There was a two-mile long line of cars waiting and the station hadn’t opened yet. Tadlock said there have been 12,087 fatalities and 15,552 people are missing. There are 2 million residents without electricity and 1.4 million without water. “There were so many deaths over there that they ran out of body bags and coffins and China is sending more over,” he said. Tadlock said he thinks there has been some miscommunication between Japan and the United States. The Japanese government asked citizens to evacuate a 12.5-mile radius away from the nuclear plant, but President Barack Obama asked United States citizens in Japan to evacuate a 50-mile radius away. “My boss wasn’t too happy about Obama saying to evacuate the 50 mile radius,” Tadlock said. “He thought Obama should not have gotten into it because it worried the Japanese citizens.” Tadlock said the fear seemed to be blown out of proportion, and his boss told him to just wear a hat when he went outside. “Where I lived there was about 0.05 of the radiation, so if I was outside for an hour that’s how much my body would consume,” he said. The United States was offering free flights home to its citizens, but the flights only went to a nearby country and then travelers were expected to pay for their own flights from there, Tadlock said. Tadlock said he hopes to return to Japan when it is safe because he has a job waiting for him. Joe Tadlock, J.J. Tadlock’s father, said he is relieved to have his son home, but is worried about his in-laws, who can’t pick up and leave their lives. Joe Tadlock said he lived in Japan for three years and believes they are very organized and will be able to pull together after the disaster. Jim Greenlee, president of Auburn Gold Country Rotary Club, said he enjoyed J.J. Tadlock’s presentation. “It was very interesting to hear from somebody who was there when it happened, and to get a little perspective of what people were thinking after the disaster,” Greenlee said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------- ShelterBox in Japan ShelterBox is an international nonprofit organization that delivers boxes with tents and supplies to people in countries around the world recovering from natural and man-made disasters. On March 15 ShelterBox arrived in Japan and there were 200 boxes on the ground within the first couple of days of the earthquake and tsunami, said Alan Young, an Auburn representative of ShelterBox USA. ShelterBox was one of the first relief organizations in Japan, Young said. Now there are 1,600 boxes in the country, but there are still 500,000 people without shelter, Young said. Young said since 2006, 16 ShelterBoxes have been funded by Auburn residents and sent around the world. For more information on the organization, visit shelterboxusa.org.