The chicken breast and two small hamburger patties are a feast compared to the noodles and beef jerky Brad Farynuk had on the bus trying to get back to his northern Japan home.
Enderby’s Farynuk, 29, a former star defenceman with the B.C. Hockey League Vernon Vipers, and his wife, Kathy, are trying to leave earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan, where Farynuk plays in the Asian Hockey League with the Tohoku FreeBlades.
Both survived March 11’s devastating 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that destroyed a large portion of the northeastern part of the country.
They were reunited over the weekend at their home in Hachinohe, about two hours north of Sendai, where the quake struck the hardest.
“The grocery store in Hachinohe was barren but we were able to buy some frozen shrimp, dumplings, curry paste and some eggs,” said Farynuk in an e-mail to family, friends and The Morning Star.
“There is no rice, pasta, breads milk or meats except for three $25 small steaks. “I went to a different grocery store and was able to get a chicken breast and two small hamburger patties, which serve as protein.
“McDonald’s was actually open but all you could get was a filet-o-fish or a quarter pounder with cheese.”
Kathy was in Hachinohe when the quake hit, and spent the first night sleeping in a car before being transferred to a shelter.
Farynuk had been practising with the FreeBlades, preparing for a playoff series against a team from Seoul, South Korea.
“Our team was in Koriyama, about 60-to-70-kilometres from the nuclear power plant explosions, and they evacuated up to a 20-kilometre radius,” said Farynuk.
“We kept telling our management that we wanted to get out of there but they didn’t want to take the bus without any confirmation of gas stations to fill up (people were only allowed to buy 10 litres at one time) or without taking a load of emergency supplies such as food and water north to our home.”
Farynuk said the team’s owner and manager took nearly 24 hours to make a decision about getting out of the potential radiation zone.
“This radius started as being about two kilometres, then five, then 10, then 20 in a matter of hours and we were freaking out because we were only at 60 kilometres,” said Farynuk.
“Not to mention we have had probably more than 150 smaller earthquakes and aftershocks in the past two days, shaking our hotel (we were on the third floor).”
Farynuk said it took 12 hours to drive “on every back road in northern Japan” to get from Koriyama to Hachinohe.
He ate a cup of noodles and some beef jerky as the convenience stores barely had any food or hydrating drinks and the restaurants weren’t open.
Traffic was slow on the single-lane highways, and every gas station had “a lineup a half-mile long,” he wrote.
The playoff finals have been cancelled – all of the arenas suffered structural damage and the facility Farynuk was practising at when the quake struck was shaking and lights were falling and breaking.
The team ran out of the arena on their skates across concrete to a waiting bus, which they stayed on for hours.
Now the Farynuks have to try and figure out a way to get to Tokyo to catch an international flight, which probably won’t be until Friday or Saturday at the earliest.
“I will admit that we are in need of a good dose of home right now and everyone is worried about these nuclear plants as well as the ongoing tremors and quakes,” wrote Farynuk.
“We have officially ran our city of 250,000 out of gasoline and we have about two-thirds of a tank left. Japan has tapped into its government reserves but I think they are mostly supplying rescue/service vehicles with that fuel.
“We need to get to Tokyo somehow to take an international flight but the trains aren’t going to be running down to there for probably a couple of weeks and flights from up here are limited.”
The Farynuks are on high ground in Hachinohe, which was hit with another 5.4 earthquake and another tsunami evacuation.
“There is so much uncertainty,” he said.
“Japanese teammates and families are saying that the experts are predicting another 7.0 quake to hit in the next couple of days, so when the house shakes every couple of hours now we don’t know if it’s a tremor or the start of another big one.”
The Farynuks’ home escaped with only some broken plates and glasses, a broken light and a shelf knocked over.