clean up, funakoshi, journal, ogatsu peninusula, photos, temporary housing, volunteer

with idro back in funakoshi

after 2 days helping clear mud out of houses in kameyama, the idro crew caravaned back to our base in funakoshi village, on ogatsu hanto. on the drive back we passed through both a thunderstorm, and near a fireworks display. i don’t think i’ve ever seen fireworks from the highway before.

the next morning, we started our day the way the locals do, with a beach clean. since the tsunami, the ocean deposits garbage in the port area every day. and everyday, the local fisherman pick up this trash. it’s been 5 months since the tsunami, so that’s a lot of days picking up trash in the same area. i hope that they can see a reduction in the trash amount….but it’s a bit of a sisyphusean task.

then H san and I joined the local ladies who clean the school everyday. that day there were three ladies, who were cutting up clothes that no one wanted, so that they could through them away. the clothes weren’t donations, but belonged to one of the ladies, who had to get rid of them because she didn’t have space for them. she had been living in sendai after the tsunami, and would come to funakoshi for 2-3 days, and then go back to sendai for 1 night, and then come back to funakoshi. it’s a 3 hour drive. now she is staying in ishinomaki, and makes the 1 hour drive every day. she said that she actually could stay in the part of her house that isn’t damaged, but she didn’t feel comfortable staying here at night by herself. i didn’t ask the other ladies about where they were staying, and we didn’t talk about what had been lost in the disaster. but they were very cheery, and you could tell they enjoyed spending time together, and also chatting with us volunteers. partway through the morning, they suddenly said “we’re delivering wakame (seaweed), want to come with us?” so we all piled into the car, picked up the frozen wakame, and dropped it off two towns over at the office where someone had ordered it. then the ladies drove us around a little, and showed us the beach at the next village, arahama, which was a vacation destination. since arahama had experienced a previous tsunami, they had relocated their houses to higher ground, and the buildings destroyed were work spaces. similarly, the next town, osu, also had minimal damage. osu is the location of the evacuation center. then they took us to see the new temporary housing units that have been built up near the mountain road between funakoshi and arahama. there are 15 units, 1 of which is not spoken for. no one is living there now, but people will be moving in soon. the housing is for funakoshi and arahama residents, but it turns out that everyone who will be moving in is from funakoshi. before building the temporary housing, the local government surveyed the people to try to find out how many needed the housing. but like mrs. N, many people didn’t know how long it would take to get temporary housing, so they made their own housing choices. so these 15 units do not provide housing for everyone who lost their homes in funakoshi.

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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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