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Former La Cañadans spared brunt of quake

Family now living in Japan say Californians should be more serious about disaster preparedness.

March 16, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

The devastation caused Friday by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan should serve as a warning for Foothills residents to take the threat of such disasters more seriously, says a former La Cañada Flintridge resident now living near Tokyo.

Marshall Adams, Mika Nabeshima and their teenaged sons, Tyler and Leo—who both attended Paradise Canyon Elementary and participated in local Boy Scout activities—moved last August from their home on Alminar Avenue in La Cañada to Yokohama, Japan, after Nabeshima received a job transfer.

About an hour’s commute south of Tokyo, and more than 200 miles from the epicenter of the quake, Yokohama was rattled by the temblor but was spared any major damage, said Adams, who keeps a blog at mustbegoing.blogspot.com and was reached by telephone Monday night (Tuesday morning in Japan).

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Still, anxieties ran high. Train service came to a halt, temporarily stranding Nabeshima in Tokyo, where she works for a large insurance firm. Tyler, 15, was stranded at his school and forced to spend the night at a friend’s house.

Even after the family was reunited the next day in their high-rise apartment, they faced hundreds of aftershocks, predictions of rolling blackouts and the threat of radiation leakage from damaged nuclear power plants.

“The experts said within three days of Saturday there was a 70% chance of aftershocks of 7.0 or more [the 1994 Northridge quake registered 6.7], and the bigger question is, where that would happen. Aftershocks are happening all over the place, not just in the original spot of the [nearly] 9.0 quake, so we feel like there’s still something hanging over our heads,” said Adams, 42, a former employee of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Department.

The threat of ongoing trouble had the family carrying backpacks filled with emergency supplies — including food, water, medicine, clothes, eyeglasses, gloves, hats, rain ponchos, lists of phone numbers (in case cell service was out), insurance information and pocket knives — wherever they went.

Despite his relative proximity to the disaster zone, Adams said people in his city know only as much about the most devastated areas and the ongoing threat of nuclear radiation leaks as many others around the world who are also glued to their televisions.

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