Prepared or Paranoid? – Eyewitness report from Japan

Ed Note I received the following eyewitness perspective from  Navy wife Tanya, living about 240 miles from the nuclear site.  I found Tanya’s perspective refreshing and encouraging as she and her family are learning to live with drastically less power and water in the aftermath of the earthquake.  I hope you will glean perspective and helpful tips as you consider what preparing for the future with an Almighty God still firmly in control will look like for your family.  Marilyn Moll

Dear Marilyn,

The Wisdom to Prepare.  I think sometimes it’s a fine line between prepared and paranoia. Both are reigning at the moment.
We are in Misawa, Japan. We are 232 miles from the nuclear facility that’s on the verge of meltdown. Yet we’re not panicking (well, some people are, we’re not) while folks in the states are going ballistic buying iodine pills, which can actually harm you if you take too much, and really only protects your thyroid from radiation poisoning (other organs are still at risk).

Some people are arming themselves not with wisdom and information, but fear and paranoia.

There is also only so much you can prepare for, and if you try to “prepare” for the future by thinking of every possibility, you start to leave the realm of the first P (Prepared) and enter the realm of the second P (Paranoid), because once you start thinking of all the “But what ifs” it becomes overwhelming.

We have, for months now, been starting to practice meal planning, freezer cooking, grinding our own grain and baking our own bread, etc. But even that has it’s drawbacks. We are military, but live off base in a house out in town. Our stove is propane gas. So when we lost power for 2 days following the earthquake, we could use the stove by manually lighting the burners. But the stove electronically controls the oven, so we couldn’t bake.

Most freezer meals require an oven to cook, so we were considering creative options, like dumping the lasagna in an aluminum pan and firing up the charcoal grill. Not only that, since we had no power, the freezer was no longer any use. My husband bought me a water bath canner but I haven’t had an opportunity to use it yet.

That’s what I  mean: prepare for the future how?  What if I HAD a rack of canned goods that then got knocked over and broken in a huge earthquake? What good is that then? I don’t often see pictures of home canned goods with padding or bungee cords protecting them, so are those people really “prepared”?  You simply can’t predict/prepare for every possibility. (emphasis mine.)

As far as grinding our own grain, I fortunately had just baked 6 loaves of bread. But if we lose power again, I’ll have to resort to store bought flour, and have to knead it by hand. Fortunately, I’ve done that in the past, before I got the Bosch mixer, so I’m not a stranger to that method. I think that’s the most important thing people can do to prepare for a disaster: learn these skills. (Ed Note:  The Urban Homemaker has always used the tagline:   “old-fashioned skills for contemporary people.”)

That doesn’t mean, become a homesteader and live off the grid. That’s not for everyone–heck, it’s not even for ME! I’ve been watching “Homesteading for Beginners”, and while there are great tips and helps, just watching it makes me realize I could never do that as a lifestyle. But I want to at least try my hand at some things so I KNOW I can carry my family through anything.

Right now our town has for the most part escaped any serious damage–no deaths or injuries, that I’m aware of. The harbor was hit by a small tsunami, and the fishery was wiped out, but no lives. But the base is running on limited power (for the record, the Fukushima power plant is NOT the only one, though the media seems to be implying that, there are over 50, and only that one was damaged; however, they all shut off when the earthquake hit as precaution, and  now they have to refire them up slowly), we are being asked out in town to conserve as much as possible.

Fuel is scarce and being rationed (but my husband has an extracycle, so he’s OK; I have 4 kids, but we’ll just have to limit van trips to absolute emergency).  Propane is running out (that’s how our stove runs). The kerosene distribution center–that’s how, off base, we get heat (for the house, water, dryer, etc)–is in Hachinohe, which was hit by tsunami (you can youtube video of it), and the tanks got water in them, and it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll get more. In other words, whatever little kerosene is in our home tank is all we have until who knows when. So we keep all heat off, boil water for dishes (but that uses propane), one bath a week for the kids, etc. I’m considering line drying clothes inside, but we just had another huge snowfall so it’s cold even inside.

Anyway, I think this was a very timely article you wrote, and so true–only the wisdom of God can prepare us in the way that is most important for any disaster.

Our kids have been pretty upset by the non-stop aftershocks, but they are getting better every day. Because every day we remind them that nothing has happened to them yet, and that’s because God protected us, and God will continue to look after us. He’s the only real preparation, because He gives us the peace to calmly make the decisions that will get us through. Thank you again for your work.

God Bless,

Tanya Stone
Navy Spouse
Misawa-shi, Aomori, Japan
PS–I made a batch of your pancake/waffle mix recipe. We’ve used it twice already, and I think I’ll make more today since we can use our electric griddle. Thanks!

Ed Note: There you have it dear readers – read, glean, learn, and pray for the people in Japan to have the wisdom of God to do the next thing.


  1. Oh what the military families sacrifice for all of us. It’s good to read this and I will post in on my facebook for others to see. Our family was military and lived in Turkey many year ago, so we experienced some hardships. God be with you and give you grace and peace! Thanks for serving us!

  2. What a courageous family! Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Stone. We are praying for you all.

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