The damage in northern Japan is “unimaginable,” according to relatives of teacher Bill Melville.
His wife’s sister lives in Japan and they were unable to reach her after the category 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit at about 2 a.m. Hamilton time on Friday. It was mid-day in Japan. All the phone lines were jammed, he said.
“We couldn't call into Japan but they were able to call us,” Melville said after the couple heard from their relatives at about 10 p.m. on Friday.
In addition to teaching at the high school, Melville is the director of Hamilton-Wenham Cam, the public access channel.
His sister-in-law Midori Iida, her husband Takio and their two children, Yuto and Himeka, are all OK.
“Thankfully there was little damage in my sister-in-law's area,” Melville said.
But Takio Iida was stuck in a Tokyo suburb afterward because the trains shut down. His trip home took six hours, only a small inconvenience compared to the unbelievable damage and destruction experienced by thousands of others.
“He started on foot but was eventually picked up by my sister-in-law and didn't get home until 12:30 a.m.,” Melville said. “My wife is a bit relieved but still very anxious as am I.”
Earlier on Friday before he spoke with his relatives, Melville said that he believed they were OK since the “Slingbox” in their house – a device that transfers television programs from one TV to another – was still working.
Melville’s in-laws live near Yokohama, which is about 200 miles south of the epicenter. His mother-in-law Setsuko Suekuni was on vacation in Australia when the earthquake hit.