Black Chicagoan Edward Clemons Survived Japan Quake and Tsunami After Days Without Food or Water; Finally Able to Talk With Anxious Mom Back Home

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I saw this happy ending on Nancy Grace last night. Just like I knew, this brother was living and working in Japan, in its countryside, like other blacks who comprise the 5,000 African Americans who also call Japan their home.

Apparently, Cynthia Young, mother of Edward “Corey” Clemons, who had been teaching in Sendai, the quake epicenter, had become very concerned over the fact that she had not heard from her son since the twin disasters struck.

Today, Clemons was finally able to contact and reassure his mother when an American reporter happened by the school where he had taught English to junior high (middle school) and high school students for the past two years. This was also where Clemons and several others had taken shelter.   I am sure that the school was probably one of the few buildings left standing–or halfway standing.   He had no way to communicate with the outside world until CNN reporter Anderson Cooper gave him his cell phone.

Chicago-native Edward Clemons, 25, was living and working teaching English for the JET Program in Sendai, where last Friday’s massive earthquake was centered. He was last heard from the day before the earthquake struck, and his family was beginning to fear the worst.

Friday, Clemons’ mother Cynthia Young was ecstatic. Young said she was enormously relieved to hear her son’s voice. She said she screamed and jumped for joy and then tried to keep him talking on the phone.

He told her that he was at the school where he taught junior high and high school students English. She says he was trying not to become to emotional, so as not to upset her but it was clear that he had lost friends in the earthquake and the tsunami.

“He told me ‘Mom, I’m alive.’ I said, ‘did you eat?’ He laughed and said, ‘they’re dropping food and water.’ I said, ‘are you safe?’ He said there were a lot of families that died, children. It was a sad experience. I’m here watching it but he’s there living it, so there’s a difference,” Young said.

They talked only for a few minutes before the phone went dead, but Young said she knows Clemons will be OK.

I’m glad that the brother is alright, too.  From his mother, it appears he was helping to keep the surviving children engaged and calm.  However, Clemons, like many other Japanese and Americans caught in the aftermath of this disaster, is most probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He probably has seen and experienced things that none of us here have ever witnessed, and that is the mass destruction of people, places, communities, nature and property on an unheard-of scale all at once.  Everything is smashed up, flattened, burned out, rolled over and crushed.  Ships are on the tops of surviving buildings.  Cars are scattered onto themselves like Matchbox toys.  It is a mournful and terrifying environment, much like that of a war zone.

No doubt, the stench of dead bodies hidden under the rubble and mud, of animals and even of fish is emotionally unhinging.

And Clemons has probably seen how some of his students died, and their parents, and his friends and neighbors.  He will get over it in time, but the horror of this event will remain with him forever.  Even when the State Department is able to get him home, and his mother is able to give him a pizza celebration at a nearby park upon his return.  This will stick to him.

~ by blksista on March 19, 2011.

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