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Flashback Friday: 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan

By the time msnbc reached me, they had apparently been calling for hours.

By the time msnbc reached me, they had apparently been calling for hours. I was on vacation in Thailand, but the overnight crew only knew I was somewhere in that part of the world--and started to worry that I might have been caught up in Japan’s earthquake and  tsunami.  In fact, I was  completely unaware of the absolute devastation, and with flight cancellations it would be a full day and a half before I would make my way to Tokyo.

The images are still haunting--families searching for the missing after a 9.0 quake and a 23-foot wall of water washed destroyed entire towns. Eventually, the death toll would top a devastating 16,000…and the Fukushima plant experienced the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. I’ll never forget standing outside the U.S. embassy as American families--some had lived and worked in Japan for years--were desperately trying to get out of the country. Families with young children especially, were  worried about the health effects.

Today, thousands of people are still living in temporary housing in Japan, and officials say it could be six to 10 years before they’re re-settled. Debris has washed up along North American shores, a stark reminder of the disaster of two years ago.

“Flashback Friday” is a meander down memory lane of stories I’ve covered over the years and that may just spark some memories of your own. My team has worked hard scouring our archives and we hope you like them. Tweet me at @jansingco and let us know what you think!