Reporter's family in Fukushima taking nuclear concerns in stride
Sandra Endo's grandmother, Sen Endo -- shown about two years ago with her now-late husband -- lives 50 miles from Daiichi.
March 16th, 2011
04:24 PM ET

Reporter's family in Fukushima taking nuclear concerns in stride

Editor's note: CNN reporter Sandra Endo has relatives in Fukushima, Japan, one of the areas hit hardest by Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Here, she writes of her relief on learning they're alive, and about her concerns about their proximity to a distressed nuclear power plant.

First it was the quake, now the radiation. The joy of finally hearing from my family in Fukushima after worrying for days is slowly becoming tepid.

My family in Los Angeles and I first heard from my 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in Fukushima City, on Tuesday night. We spent restless days and worrisome nights wondering how she was doing, wanting to hear her voice and find out her condition. We put all our faith in one text message that my cousin in Hiroshima received the night of the quake, saying that our family in Fukushima was accounted for, but what did that mean?

Besides my grandmother, my two aunts, two cousins and their four toddlers live 50 miles from the dangerously unstable Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They took in my cousin's in-laws, who live just 10 miles from the plant.

Fukushima City is my father’s hometown. It’s a place where I spent summers playing in the streets with my cousins, going to the local ice cream shop and getting free firecrackers from neighbors during the summer festival season. It's where everyone knew whose kid you were and what shop your family ran for generations.

We were so happy to hear they all survived despite their grim stories of seeing neighbors' homes flattened, bodies being pulled from rubble and the scarcity of food and gas. Luckily, they recently installed a new water pump, which withstood the massive quake. My family was providing water for the community, because many were without.

They told us they were sealing off their house as best they could to prevent radiation from seeping in. That meant patching up one wall of the house that collapsed during the quake. The broken dishes, glass and strewn furniture didn’t matter, because all that could be replaced or cleaned. Now the worry is the radiation.

On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Japan issued an evacuation notice for Americans who live 50 miles from the power plant; officials found traces of radiation in the tap water in Fukushima. My family lives within that zone with no way and no place to move.

The fear is even taking hold in Tokyo, hundreds of miles south of Fukushima, where people are trying to get out of the country.

With the gas shortage, only emergency crews are fueling up, so driving is not an option for my family. My grandma says evacuation centers are already filled.

With the patience and spirit only a 90-year-old could have, she says she will wait, stay in her hometown and make the best of it. She says she’ll celebrate life, not worry about the possible danger that lurks. She tells me she’s glad I’m not there and CNN crews have left the area; she says it’s safer that way. But I say: Grandma, there’s no place I’d rather be.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Neely Myers

    Beautiful. I hope she will read this and smile. And my hopes are with you and yours.

    March 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • My Low Cost PC project on IndieGoGo ---

      why don't use these firefighter ships to send a continuous flow of water atop of the Fukushima's nuclear plant buildings?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marisel Valentina

    for you and your grandmother a world of light! !!!

    March 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marisel Valentina

    for you and your grandmother a world of light! !!!

    March 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ad

    why so much cover up on man made disasters like this??? dont we deserve to know the accurate details on how much radiation is leaking from the reactors now??? how much water is remaining in the pool of spent fuel rods??

    March 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jx

    Sandra, blessings to you and your beautiful family. May they be protected.

    March 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ks

    The whole world sends love to you and your family. We are with you and praying for you.

    March 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jazz7

    I look at this picture and see two very beautiful ppl , may god be with u in this time of uncertianity to convert u and yours , with much love

    March 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      so sorry i meant comfort you NOT convert u lololo

      March 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    Jazz is right, with much love.

    March 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RM

    My heart goes out to you and yours.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ed Bailey

    Nature was cruel and man was stupid, I hope your family stays protected!

    March 16, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Four Eyes Doc in Chitown

    I'm glad that your family is safe for now. The radiation has to be a huge scare and I can't imagine what you and your family must be going through.

    I'll think good thoughts for your family and the survivors of this natural disaster and I'll definitely give my 90 yo grandma a big hug when I head back to CA.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sarah

    May God be with us all.

    March 17, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lael bradshaw

    glad your family is safe. but i don't understand why there is not generators and more aid going to the towns cut off by helicopters - those people need aid. why isn't the US and Red Cross doing more?

    March 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |