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Intel Employees: Shaken Up in Japan

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As a global company, when tragedy strikes one part of the world, it impacts the entire Intel community. When the 8.9 earthquake struck Japan on March 11, eyes all around the world watched for news of their comrades on the other side of the world.

Two employees from our Intel Japan site, Jeff and Kanae, used our internal blogs to share their experience of what the quake felt like from our offices as well as reuniting with family after the quake.

Jeff shares what the quake felt like:

“Having lived in Japan for a year and a half, I have experienced a few earthquakes. The first couple take you off guard and then you kind of get use to them. Usually they will range between 5-6 magnitude so little damage and just a bit of shaking. Well today at 2:46pm Tokyo time I experienced what an 8.9 magnitude quake felt like. I will come right out and say, I don’t care to experience another one. Usually earthquakes last a couple seconds and you can go on. Not only didn’t this one stop but it shook harder the longer it went. After what seemed like a minute I started to get scared. What probably got me the most was when the person I was in a meeting with grabbed the table and looked visibly shaken, I knew this was not just a small earthquake. So what does it feel like? Well go to Disney and ride something that shakes and multiply it a dozen times. You might get a sense of what it really feels like. It really does cast fear into the heart of the bravest person.

When I emerged from the conference room, everyone was in the hallways and making sure each other were ok. Most were trying to call their families, but found the cellular networks were already down. By the time I got back to my desk, we had had some aftershock or new earthquakes. When the next big one hit (7.1 this time), everyone got under their desk. You have to understand, this is a culture that grows up with earthquakes. They know what they feel like, they know how to deal with them and they are completely prepared. Intel has supplies of food, water and blankets, just in case we get stuck at the office. So to see the fear and anxiety on the faces of those around me was not comforting.

About this time, everyone was checking on the website to see about Tsunami’s. Before we knew it, 18 ft waves were speeding towards the coast of northern Japan. The video coverage of the destruction was heartbreaking and co workers huddled around the computer screens to see what was happening. No matter how prepared you are for this kind of disaster, it is really never enough. The country just froze: with all normal modes of transportation down, the only options are to hitch a ride with someone with a car, try to grab a taxi or walk.

I finally decided that I would start walking home and figured that I could catch a taxi. There were hordes of people walking along the sidewalks and the roads were jammed with cars trying to get out of the city. Just to give you an idea, I was able to walk faster and farther than anyone sitting in a car. After walking for 2.5 hours, I made it home. I have heard it has taken some of my co-workers 4-6 hours to get home due to the terrible traffic congestion.

With cellular down, I had no way to get in touch with my wife or children. Japan has a great WiMax network and because that was up I had been able to email and Facebook with my wife. I was able to find out they were ok, though extremely shaken up as well. So I wanted to just get home. I finally got home and now sit here writing this post. Just during this time, three earthquakes have hit (5.1, 5.2 and 5.5). They are tiny in comparison, but I keep wondering will we experience another “big” one. You see, what has been the most eerie and nerve wracking part is since the 8.9 earthquake, we have had over 60 quakes/aftershocks ranging from 5.1 to 7.1 in magnitude. You feel the next one coming and wonder if it is going to be another massive quake. I will never forget this day. I am thankful my family and co-workers are safe, though the Nation of Japan will be dealing with this for a long time to come. It is a terrible tragedy and I grieve for all of Japan. I certainly hope no one has to live through this level of earthquake again.”

Kanae on reuniting with her family

“This was surely the greatest quake I have ever experienced in my life since I was born in Japan. When we first felt the quake, I thought it would go away soon as usual - we are so used to the quake in Japan....but this one was different. The shake got bigger and bigger and never stopped. My PC monitor started to swing on my desk and dust & broken pieces of the ceiling panels started falling down on us. We quickly got under the table. Even under the table, I could not stay still as my body swayed right to left wildly. I kept hearing crashing sound from all over the place.

By the time I could stand and walk between the quakes, the whole site decided to evacuate the office. Cables were hanging from the broken ceiling. Things were no longer on the shelf/in the cabinet as they were thrown all over the floor. I had to make my way through all the ceiling tiles and stuff on the floor as I made my way to the building entrance. Most of us were trying to call our families, but the cellular networks were already over the capacity and could not reach my family members.

I kept calling my daughter at school, but cell phone never worked – It took 1 hour to get hold of her and it was a scary 1 hour. She was in the school gym when the ceiling broke and fell over them. Fortunately, she jumped out of the way and got out of the gym with her friends. I cannot forget her face with mixed emotions (worried, scared, relieved, etc) when we reunited at her school. I am also thankful to those teachers who have protected our kids when they surely wanted to be head back home too. Many kids needed to spend the night at the school as they could not get connected with their parents to pick them up and the public transportation had stopped. My husband was out of town on his business and it took 2 hours for us to get connected.

There was no water supply for a few days in our vicinity…..now the water is back but I am still running around to get enough food to feed my family. I see people really sharing and supporting each other – in this situation, people are rather calm and I am very proud of this. We still continuously have aftershocks all through the day. I am also so thankful my family and co-workers are safe.

We may need to deal with some inconveniences for a while…however, we are in much much more fortunate situation comparing with those in the North. This is a tragedy and I will never forget. We will need to continuously live with this Mother Nature. We will believe in ourselves and stay close to get through this difficult time. And, I am so thankful that we keep receiving encouragement from our friends from all over the world. I will never forget.”

As Japan works through the aftermath, people all over the world are banding together to support relief efforts to help our brethren survive. Intel employees have now given $344,000, which Intel matches dollar for dollar. Additionally, the Intel Foundation announced on Friday that it is donating an additional $1 million for disaster relief, bringing our company’s total giving to nearly $1.7 million. If that’s not community, than I don’t know what is.