A FORMER Holmfirth woman told last night of the continued problems in Japan after the terrible earthquake.
Mrs Sheila Shimizu, who was brought up in the Holme Valley, has lived in Japan for 32 years.
She is a teacher and lives in Tokyo with her husband and two children.
But she and thousands of other families are now having to cope with continued aftershocks, fears over nuclear radiation from the damaged atomic plants, and of food shortages because of panic buying.
She, however, remains upbeat and said: “A message for my dear friends, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Holme Valley – we are safe and well and hoping to see you again someday.”
Mrs Shimizu is formerly Sheila Laycock and was born in Holme Valley Memorial Hospital in 1951.
Her mother was a native of Hepworth and her father hailed from Chapeltown – theirs was a war-time romance.
She attended the former Holme Valley Grammar School, and the family moved from Holmbridge to Lime Avenue in Thongsbridge when she was in her early teens.
She said: “Friday, March 11, changed our perceptions of many things, our view of life, of what is important to us.
“For my own part, I rejoice to be alive with my family, friends and pets around me, although we all feel shocked as if we are living in a bad dream.
“Perhaps this is just the after-shocks that continue to shake our fragile old house over a week later, and the worsening news we are bombarded with each day.
“The terrifying disintegration of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, 230 kilometres from Tokyo and the incredible scenes of almost biblical destruction we can’t escape from on our TV screens.
“Entire towns and villages completely flattened, fleeing people washed away by the massive, implacable tidal wave which inundated three lovely prefectures, a man carried out to sea on the roof of his house.
“Thousands of people have perished and hundreds of thousands are now homeless, sheltering in school gyms and public halls, without heating or adequate food and water.
“Many of them are dying for lack of medical care.
“Even in the relative safety of Tokyo we are suffering from power cuts, fuel shortages and empty supermarket shelves.
“People are afraid, so they are panic-buying. I’m guilty of this myself – we have enough pasta and flour to feed an army!
“And we are now being warned not to eat leafy vegetables because they may be radioactive.
“But it’s not all doom and gloom. Not only are Japanese very, very courageous and stoical, they are also extremely well-prepared to face and overcome disaster, even of this proportion.
“Of course there is enormous grief, but there is no panic or hysteria, and most of us believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Life will go on.”
She added: “My husband is a Tokyoite and our two children were born and raised here.
“It’s a great country to live in – we can walk the streets alone at any time of day or night completely without fear.
“Children are not just tolerated – they are loved and treasured. Politeness, consideration and cleanliness are almost national characteristics.
“But we also live everyday on the edge. Earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, floods, landslides, typhoons – these are facts of life here.
Maybe this is why Japanese so venerate sakura – cherry blossom; breathtakingly beautiful, yet so transient. We enjoy the brief moment, then let it go without regret.”