As we await the rapidly-approaching flood stage of local rivers and all the media reports of radioactive drift from the terrible tragedy in Japan, it all hits home a little too closely for me. Not that I have to worry about immediate flooding in my neighborhood; I live on the crest of a series of hills. However, I have a Japanese daughter-in-law from Tokyo that now lives with my son and grandson in New York City.
The destructive scenes of the tsunami spreading across the coastline of Japan reminds us all of the powerful nature of water. While we won't experience the devastation and loss of so many lives, hopefully little devastation and no loss of lives, the Minnesota flooding will cause damage to our physical and natural resources.
My daughter-in-laws parents live in Tokyo with another grandson and his parents. Once the nuclear plants began to experience meltdown, along with the escaping radiation, the in-laws began to think about evacuating the country and fleeing to America. As Japan is the only country to experience atomic bomb explosions in its lifetime, I'm sure still fresh in the minds of Japanese elders, I could not blame the reaction by my in-laws. They definitely didn't want their 2 and 1/2 year-old grandson there to experience radiation drift.
Some stabilization at the nuclear plants and luck because of prevailing winds have caused more calm every day away from the immediate area of the earthquake. However, there are still many unknowns and everyone south of the impact zone is clearly concerned. The in-laws fled further south to Osaka where they have relatives to stay with. How long they may be there is a distinct unknown.
So one wonders if this Japanese tragedy will cause our legislators to hold off on the lifting of our moratorium on nuclear plants here. The governor has put some strict conditions in the way of the legislation before it can reach his desk. And with the potentially damaging flooding just ahead, and the legislature putting the finishing committee touches on the budget bills this week, they should be fully cognizant that there needs to be adequate monies for our natural resource agencies to be able to restore river and creek banks to their natural condition.
John Helland is a Minnesota legend but humble man who worked on environment and natural resource issues for the legislature for over 35 years, and now writes, blogs and enjoys leisure while watching from afar. He is now a proud grandfather, too.