asahi shinbun, iwate

Ingenuity used to rebuild shattered hometowns, AJW 3/11 quake update via facebook, 4/4/2011

Fishing and farming families who chose to remain behind in their tsunami-devastated communities are slowly moving forward.
Using scraps picked from the endless amount of debris, fishing out equipment from the rubble and holding onto a sense of sharing, they are steadily rebuilding their shattered communities.
At an evacuation center in Toni district in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, 120 residents from the Kerobe community take turns dining under lights formerly used for squid fishing. More than 90 percent of them are from fishing families.
Twenty-two volunteer fire brigade members of the Hirota branch in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, continue to search for missing people while staying alert for possible emergencies.
After their fire station was submerged, the volunteer firefighters set up a tent at Jionji temple, now an evacuation center, and will soon offer something long taken for granted before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami: a bath.
They have found a waste drum for that purpose.
“I would like evacuees to take a bath after we improve this drum bath,” one member said.
Evacuees in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, recently found a few stores open in a shopping district that had once been submerged in about 1.5 meters of muddy water.
Shop operators said their decision to reopen was in response to the evacuees’ huge desire to change their clothes. The owners recovered items from the mud and washed them thoroughly.
Despite the enormous demand, price-gouging is nonexistent here.
Each article of clothing is priced at about 10 percent of the normal price.
“I want to offer as cheap prices as possible,” a store operator said.
In Minami-Sanriku’s Togura district in Miyagi Prefecture, evacuees collected wood and other material from the collapsed houses.
“Gas is running short. I do not know who this wood belonged to, but we will burn it for heat because it is useful for all of us,” an evacuee said.
Also in Minami-Sanriku, the operator of a gas station that reopened the day after the earthquake continues using a manual pump to provide fuel.
He lost his parents and house in the tsunami.
“My father is still missing,” he said. “But he would say, ‘You don’t have to search for me. Help your neighbors first.'”

(Copyright 2011 the Asahi Shimbun. All Rights Reserved.)

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About liz

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

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