Naperville Ties to Japan

When earthquakes first started shaking the ground in Japan, North Central College Junior Ereka Funkhouser wasn’t worried. But when the ground continued shaking hours later, her fear began to grow.

“A friend came to my dorm and knocked and said all the utilities are out,” said Funkhouser. “We need to go to the store now or all the food would be gone, and no one knows what’s going on.”

Funkhouser is in Morioka, about 100 miles away from the epicenter of the first earthquake that caused the tsunami. The first night, she had to evacuate her dorm. There were no utilities and she couldn’t get food for 24 hours. Now things have improved, and she says the people of Japan are working together to get through this difficult time.

“Everyone has been exceedingly kind,” said Funkhouser. “It’s just a very different feel for everything. People on the street just stopped me and asked to make sure I’m OK.”

In Nishinomiya, more than 500 miles away, North Central College and Waubonsie Valley High School alumna Jackie Rzeczkowski also felt the first quake. That earthquake registered a 9.0 the Richter scale, and was stronger than last year’s earthquake in Haiti. Since then, she’s felt many tremors.

“Once I figured out exactly how strong it was and checked the news and everything, I was worried because two of my friends are in Sendai which was really close,” said Rzezcowski. “I started to feel really scared and worried at that point.”

Now the fear for many is effects from the nuclear reactor explosions. Officials at Argonne say that while the situation isn’t ideal, it could be a lot worse.

“In general in this type of situation, the release would only occur if there’s releases from the containment,” said Mitchell Farmer, Nuclear Engineer at Argonne. “There have been some issues with that, it hasn’t been perfectly tidy, but not to the extent that it could be.”

Experts say ensuring there’s safe drinking water is a bigger concern for those in japan than radiation is. Both Funkhouser and Rzeczkowski plan to stay in Japan for the time being. Rzeczkowski blogs about her experiences. She’s had more hits since the earthquakes and tsunami.

If you want to help the people of Japan, Mason Sabika is hosting a fundraiser on Monday, April 4th. They’ll donate all sales from that day to those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami.

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