Source: Sherman Publications

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LOHS grad reports from Japan

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

April 13, 2011

While many in Lake Orion will never experience the horror of a tsunami or a severe earthquake, one former area resident was in Japan when the disaster occurred, March 11.

Adam Sandstrom, a 2005 Lake Orion High School grad, joined the United States Navy in November of 2008, and is now based in Yokosuka City - an area which lies 200 miles south of Fukushima.

Fukushima, one of the hardest hit areas, is the location of the infamous nuclear power plant being treated to avoid meltdown.

"My wife and I were just in the city when I started to walk weird, and I started thinking maybe I hadn't eaten enough that day," said Sandstrom, recalling the day the 9.0 magnitude quake hit the eastern coast of the country. "I started to notice everyone was moving, old ladies were grabbing on to posts to keep from falling.

"It wasn't as bad where we were though. I think it was only around a 5.0 or 6.0 magnitude."

As the days went by, more and more reports began to pour into Yokosuka, and in turn, aid from Sandstrom's base was sent back.

"Our base does clothing drives, food drives, and most of our ships have gone up there to support and aid people," said Sandstrom. "I volunteer at an animal shelter, and one of our other volunteers got back one day, and said they were basically just looking through rubble for bodies at that point."

Sandstrom works for the the bases administrative services, receiving and sending messages for the base. He said the work makes it difficult to leave, but if the opportunity arose, he would be quick to volunteer.

During the aftermath of the initial disaster, Sandstrom said he still sees occasional earthquakes and aftershocks, which he said are supposed to continue for ten years.

"We get them everyday, but you get used to them," he said. "You look up and see stuff moving around and think 'oh, we're having another earthquake.'

"I think the biggest fear right now is the nuclear plant in Fukishawa, but they're not letting any of our ships go there, and Americans aren't allowed to go either."

Sandstrom said the best the base is able to offer the residents of Fukishawa is clean water to dump on the plant, as salt water causes damage to the fuel rods. Large amounts of water are tugged up from the naval base in Yokosuka to Fukishawa, where it's loaded onto helicopters and dropped onto the ailing facility to help cool and maintain the core's temperature.

Yet despite the severity of the incident, he says thing are beginning to get back to normal, with area residents once again leaving their homes and going about their daily lives.

Still, Sandstrom and his wife, Alysha, originally of Lapeer, said they hope people still pay attention to the affected areas and realize the scope of the tragedy.