Let's be rational. I don't know how many people are still worrying about all of Japan being vaporized by a nuclear explosion, but we have as much chance of that happening as Godzilla rising out of the ocean and stomping over Russia to wave at Sarah Palin. (You thought I was going to say "destroy Tokyo," didn't you?)
Headlines like "Helicopter Crew Exposed to Radiation" are factually accurate, but the impression that leaves is overblown - it was LOW levels. Like, "wash your hands with soap and water and you have nothing to worry about" low. They flew through some steam vented from one of the plants. Yes, it contained radiation. How much? Maximum potential radiation levels the crew was exposed to was less than you get if you play outside over summer vacation.
Article One about why you should relax from NPR News
Article Two about why you should relax from The Wall Street Journal
The first post of this forum thread has an excellent explanation and overview, and will likely be updated before I write again.
Something is happening at one of the plants as of this morning (10am Tuesday morning for me, 9pm Monday night for the US east coast), but it doesn't look like the situation will get anywhere near as bad as people are still imagining.
I'm not being brave in the face of danger, I'm much too far away to be in any danger. This is a local area problem at worst, and I'm not local. We live about 200 miles away. Roughly the distance between New York City and Washington, DC. Under normal circumstances, it would take three and a half hours to get there by bullet train.
Today's blackout is scheduled between 9:20am and 1:00pm. It's not as nice outside today, so the windows aren't open, but I hear traffic going by outside and our train line was operating at more stations today, so Husband made it in to the office this morning. I'm told lines at gas stations are long, but remember this is a country where you don't really need a car to get from Point A to Point B most of the time. I'm happy to give up a few hours of electricity every day if the rest of daily life can be more or less normal, which it's looking like it will be. I'm a little concerned about grocery stores being able to resupply, but I have no reason to think that we're in real trouble and have to ration our pretzels and spaghetti sauce (two random things in our cabinets right now). I'll go back to the store in a couple days and see what they look like.