Deirdre Smith and Ross McCain outside their guesthouse.
Deirdre Smith and Ross McCain outside their guesthouse.

Quake intensity 'gob-smacking'

AS Japan reels from its biggest recorded earthquake, former Tweed and Gold Coast residents in the country have talked of the terrifying tremors and people’s reactions to the disaster.

The nine-magnitude quake unleashed a devastating tsunami and officials were still racing yesterday to avert a meltdown of two reactors at a nuclear plant as the death toll from the disaster on the ravaged northeast coast was forecast to exceed 10,000.

Murwillumbah actress Rachael Baker, 18, arrived in Tokyo just over a week ago to work as a princess at Disneyland.

“It is a bit scary right now, a lot of people are breaking down, but I’m trying to remain calm,” Ms Baker said yesterday.

“It was my first earthquake so I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like.”

Fortunately Ms Baker’s building on the outskirts of Tokyo was built to survive earthquakes. .

“I had just gotten into the bath tub and the water started to splash around,” she said.

“The shaking got stronger and stronger and the water was splashing every

where and my bathroom flooded.

“I jumped out and found some clothes and then on the loudspeaker system there was an announcement to evacuate the building.”

Ms Baker said she had received a number of emails from worried family and friends.

“We are still living in our apartments as they were undamaged, however, we have no running water,” she said.

“We have had electricity until this point, but we have been notified they will be switching power off at certain times today and probably for the next week or so.”

Ms Baker said initially most Japanese people were in shock.

“But surprisingly the very next day there were people out on the street cleaning up the sidewalks and getting things back together straight away,” she said.

Tweed Heads residents Allan and Pat Piper spent a fretful couple of hours on Friday night fearing for their son Lance and his wife Parcillah in Tokyo.

“Parcillah rang about 8pm our time, which was four hours afterwards. She was scared because she was home alone,” Mrs Piper said.

“They’re shaken, but there was no damage to their house.”

Mrs Piper said transport in Tokyo was thrown into chaos on Friday.

“It took Lance nine hours to get home and the last 10km he actually walked,” she said.

Gold Coast resident and former Tweed Daily News journalist Deirdre Smith has been living in Japan for about 16 months.

“We’re in Nagano, about 300km from where the quake hit,” Ms Smith said.

“We felt it, we were in a meeting when it happened.

“It’s really weird, everything is moving around you and you’re not moving.

“This one went on for quite a long time, which is quite surprising. It just kept shaking.”

Ms Smith and her partner Ross McCain run the Bike Bar nightclub and a bed-and-breakfast called Two Rooms.

The pair have joined forces with other businesses in the Hakuba Valley to offer assistance to some of the 200,000 people left homeless.

“We would really like it if we could do something,” Ms Smith said.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but we have room for 200 people.

“When something this huge happens there’s just no way you can prepare for it so everyone’s really horrified,” she said.

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