disaster area, journal, relief

stories of rescue, stories of dispair

since i’m writing this now, a week after it all happened, the details of the events of each day kind of blend together. mostly, i remember what i did on what day, or how the situation seemed at that time. but i don’t have a clear chronology in my mind of what the news was reporting.

since the first day, the number of victims who were confirmed dead continued to grow. at one point early on, it became know that there was one town minami sanriku, where 10,000 residents were unaccounted for. there were endless stories of people looking for loved ones, and some tearful reunions on camera. there was a story of a elderly man who was found floating at sea several days after the tsunami, and a stories of entire schools whos students couldn’t be located. stories of jr high school students coming together to provide for the elderly people staying in the evacuation center. there was one story that first reported a man had been found alive in in house, but later it was learned that he had escaped, and then returned later and had passed out. 9 days after the tsunami, there was the hopeful story of a boy and his elderly grandma who had been trapped, but survived to be rescued. but underlying these stories was the theme of the relentless tsunami, the people swept away, and the survivors, many elderly, staying in evacuation centers with no heat, not enough blankets or food. it was a truly terrible and tragic situation, and it felt like there was nothing that we could do to help them right away.

i spoke with a friend on thursday, who was closely involved in the kobe recovery after the ’95 earthquake. she had been on the phone all day, trying to get a truckload of relief supplies sent from hyogo, and somehow it couldn’t be arranged. i didn’t really understand the details, but it was destroying her, and making her have trouble to think clearly. this is a strong woman, who can get just about anything accomplished. but the frustration had pushed her close to tears.


About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.


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