This is 5 pictures stitched together to get a wide view of Onagawa. Click for a larger view. Notice the building a bit right of center has been toppled over by the tsunami. I'm standing in a hospital parking lot which was designated as a tsunami evacuation place, but the water came up even higher and swept away all those who had made it up here to what they thought was safety. The tsunami came through the inlet in the far distance and rose 100 feet high.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Tank from somewhere in a parking lot
Much of the tsunami damage was done as the water receded. There were three tsunamis and three receding floods.
Hard to identify everything
So much to be done
A car washed up the side of a hill
This emergency alert system may have saved some lives before it was knocked down
A beach chair caught on the side of a hill
Sea freight containers washed up on beach
Hope he made it
Some days breakfast was a granola bar, sometimes cereal
Still cold enough to snow!
We linked up to a team from New City Fellowship in Chattanooga
Hard to imagine the power of a tsunami
T-shirts I bought in Lexington being offered during distribution in a parking lot
A refrigerator and other debris
The whole team after distribution
Notice people are living on the second floor. Lots of homes had electricity on 2nd floor but not first due to mud and debris.
There were piles of debris and appliances and clothes along each street, sometimes taller than me.
As things were swept along, odd collections were caught together.
As the water pressure built as the water rushed through, walls burst and debris poured through the holes.
We gave these boys a little Nerf football I bought at K-Mart in Lexington. They all were so grateful for everything and gladly received it. Many asked where we were from and couldn't believe our answers. One lady just had a puzzled look on her face and asked me, "Why would you come so far?" I told her we just wanted to help.
Paul Bishop from First Baptist in Lexington was invaluable due to his fluent Japanese (he was born in Japan as a missionary kid and planted a church just miles from where we worked) and because of his training as a counselor. People reported saying they were having a hard time distinguishing reality from dreams. We did a bit too - several team members said they dreamed there was an earthquake the night before, and there really was one. We had fairly strong aftershocks every night for the last few night we we were there.
One man said his family rushed upstairs when the alarm sounded but were sickened to find his cousin floating dead in the downstairs hallway at the bottom of the steps.
These logs showed up in this neighborhood from a lumber mill far away.
We have been able to revisit people over the weeks and see how they are doing. Here one of our team members is checking on this lady from a previous visit. She grabbed the hands of her children as the water swept them up. She lost her grip on her three year old daughter and she didn't make it. Kristi is comforting her as a mom herself, and she let us pray for her. Her five year old son who made it is visible in the doorway.
We cleaned all the debris out of the yard of one lady and she invited us in to see the downstairs. They were living upstairs. Here is the high water mark in the hall.
The power was on but all switch plates had been removed to check for shorts and debris.
This is the family that survived - husband was out at the time.
Note Volunteer tags taped to our legs. That's where they wanted them because as the day got warmer, upper layers came off.
There as a bad odor everywhere due to rotting mud and dead fish.
Ishinomaki was one of the hardest hit areas.
There were 5 cars caught here and piled up. Two have been removed. The family below had just run to their car and barely drove away in time. One lady said she and another lady were swept away and muddy water choked her. Her foot got caught on something and she couldn't float to the surface. Then a neighbor reached down and pulled her up by her collar.
We cleaned mud out of their front yard and washed the high water mark off the outside wall.
These are their neighbors who also escaped just in time.
Loading our flatbed with supplies.
Samaritan's Purse has had a great impact and given away volumes of supplies.
Ishinomaki Christ Church was flooded but has recovered enough to be a distribution center.They are planning to have Easter services.
People lined up for a total of 4 hours the day we arrived. We delivered our supplies and handed out food, water and Beanie Babies to those in line.
I was amazed to find two guys doing clean up work that I had known well from our early days in Japan with SEND International.
This little girl and her mother took us around for a tour of her hometown of Onagawa. The lady's mother narrowly escaped the tsunami as it swept in the pics below. She and 60 others scrambled up the hill in the background, built a fire and huddled in the snow all night. Due to the configuration of the valley, the water didn't recede much at all. They were rescued the next day.
The valley floor had no recognizable structures left, only cement foundations outlining where they had been.
Japanese Self Defense forces were all around
This tank floated in from somewhere
Self Defense forces surveying progress of debris removal
Mostly it was a matter of just bulldozing rubble into piles to be carted off, which could take years.
Children's toys at the church distribution center.
Our team spent the night at the church, but there was no heat and no hot water.
Romans 5:5 - This hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
We found an 81 year old man living in a tiny house behind the church. He escaped the 5 foot high tsunami but went right back to his house later, after everyone else moved away or went into the shelter set up nearby. He wouldn't leave, and slept in a damp bed and walked on muddy tatami mat floors. He ate cup noodle cooked on a portable gas burner. We cleaned everything out and made arrangements through the church to get new bedding and supplies.
At the church I ran into more friends from before, from a church in Otsuki City where good friends from CIU live. They were helping clean the house.
Here is Mr. Kimura in front of his freshly cleaned house. What a joy and privilege to help him in Jesus' name. Paul found a little shrine that had almost no damage and out of respect asked if he wanted to keep it. He said no it's okay we could throw it out. We told him Sunday was Easter and asked if he wanted to come to church. He said maybe.