Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Japan Hits Close to Home

Imagine two thirds of the country is torrent with water. Only minutes before you were sitting in the rubble of your earthquake-shaken house, on your dilapidated bed, with nothing but adrenaline rushing, keeping you calm. Everything you had brought to ruins by a 9.0 earthquake then suddenly washed away, taking your mom and sister, like pickpocketers in a hec¬tic river of shopping central.

Here, in Wisconsin, the disaster seems far away, but in fact it is here, at West, in our very own lunch room. Junko Wilde has been personally affected.

Born and raised in Mito, Japan, Wilde said earth¬quakes were common because the country lies along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, an area with high volcanic activity.

“They happened often where I grew up, so every¬one knew what to do when one hit, but this earthquake was bigger than any¬thing expected,” said Wilde.

Wilde moved to the Unit¬ed States sixteen years ago after meeting her American husband, and has started a family herself here in Wisconsin, nowhere near an earthquake fault.

“That night I called my mom because I heard about it on the news,” Wilde said. “It was just af¬ter the first quake hit, and luck¬ily the phone line went through.”

Her mother told her about the scene she had witnessed. Every¬thing in the house was smashed on the floors as the walls stood at an acute angle. Houses in her neighborhood were not shaken to the ground but shifted to an ex¬treme. Though the houses were built to withstand a strong shake, the earthquake was unexpected. Ten minutes after the earthquake, a 40 foot wall of water swept over the mainland from the sea, taking with it houses, buildings, and lives. Wilde’s family lives only six miles from the Pacific Ocean.

“I asked my husband that night about how far 6 miles was from Lake Michigan was so in my head I could come up with a guess at how far away my family was from the tsu¬nami,” said Wilde. Her husband re¬plied that their house in Wauwatosa was only about 5 miles away from the lake. The reality was shocking.

Terrified for her family’s life, she emailed her brother and sister-in-law, who live in Tokyo. Her brother told her that he felt the earthquake, but did not see the tsunami. He got in contact with their parents, and then went to find them, seeing firsthand the destruction that covered his country. Transportation was difficult; roads were no lon¬ger flat, and there were lines of people waiting outside gas stations, anywhere between 5-7 hours, for a limited 5 gallons of gas. Water and food were low. Grocery stores had no food, and neighborhoods were ghost towns without any people.

However, with the earthquake and wall of water also came a wave of support and compas¬sion. The first couple of nights Junko spent in a restless sleep, but the following Friday Wilde said she felt significantly better.

“I got a lot of support from people, students, and some teachers. They are what got me through and I thank them so much,” she said. Some students gave her cards and hugs as they sympathetically extended their reassurances. Ryan Cyveko and Michael Stagl, two seniors at West, made chocolate chip cookies for her, her husband and 10 year old son, Bailey.

Junko Wilde is a familiar face at Wauwatosa West. Students know her as the lunch lady who always smiles and wishes them a good day, but now they also know her as the Wisconsin woman who was severely impacted by the tsunami, and appreciates every kind word and gesture of sympathy that she receives.

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