Japan Earthquake Long journey to recover from such a devastating catastrophe

Japan Earthquake Long journey to recover from such a devastating catastrophe

April 4, 2011, by Hideki Matsudo, staff writer of Ryukyu Shimpo, in Miyagi Prefecture

The catastrophe in northeastern Japan has inflicted the worst damage on the country since the end of World War II. Now scarred by the earthquake and tsunami, Miyagi Prefecture is home to many people from Okinawa. Among them there are men and women who only barely escaped with their lives before spending a distressing period of time in an emergency evacuation center, and others who lost family members or still cannot be contacted. Three weeks have passed since the disastrous events of March 11, so now people are moving to start reconstructing their towns and villages.

“It looks like somewhere that has been totally devastated by war,” said Toshifumi Kinjo, who hails from Motobu in the northern part of Okinawa. He was lost his words when he first saw the ruins of the town in Miyagi that he had come to call home.

Oil and gas storage facilities in Tagajo City went up in flames immediately after the earthquake, leaving the city veiled in dust with the sickly smell of oil lingering in the salt air. Yasuteru Shiohama, Chairman of the Okinawa Kenjin-Kai (organization of people from Okinawa) in Miyagi, said that most people had been confirmed as being safe, but that he was unable to make contact with non-members.

Reinforced concrete buildings and large commercial facilities had only just maintained their original form, with most of the houses and residents in the coastal area of the city being washed away by the huge tsunami. There is a heavy toll of lives and missing people. Shiohama sighed as he said, “This is what it looks like after we have done some tidying up. How do we restore the city from this? They say that the amount of rubble is equivalent to the quantity of refuse generated over 25 years.”

In Ishinomaki, the most severely affected city of Miyagi Prefecture, there were dramatic scenes of a boat that had been washed ashore by the tsunami, to be then left stuck in the side of a building, and of a taxi with the key in it but dropped down in a hole in a road.

It will take a long, long time for the affected areas to recover.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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