Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Marr Hakase & Komura Sensei

Good friends of Deadly Dragon Sound, Marr-Hakase and Komura-sensei, let us share their volunteer experience in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Thank you so much! Much respect!!

Deadly Dragon Soundの親友マール博士と小村先生が宮城県石巻市でのボランティア体験と現状レポートを送ってくださいました。ありがとうございます!マッチリスペクト!

Greetings Yew Nork JP Massive!

This is Marr-Hakase and Komura-sensei, friends of Deadly Dragon Sound, with a report from the relief front in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Deadly Dragon Soundの友だち、マール博士と小村先生がボランティア体験を元に宮城県石巻市の現状レポートを皆さんにお送りします。

Ishinomaki is one of the coastal cities hardest hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami (3,128 dead, 2,700 missing, 4,847 in emergency shelters). We had the opportunity to visit and volunteer there this week, exactly 4 months after the dual disasters. Here is how the city looked from a nearby mountain and a drive through town on July 11, 2011.


We went up for two days of volunteering with Peace Boat Japan. Our group was assigned to a private home about 200-300 meters from the ocean. A couple in their 60s lived in a two story house with their elderly and frail mother who was in diapers. When the quake hit, Mrs. M was at home with the mother, three dogs, and a cat. A few days earlier there had been a quake and a very loud tsunami warning but a tsunami never came. This time, the warning wasn’t as audible and they didn’t rush given the previous false alarm. Since it was cold, Mrs. M was putting clothes on the dogs and getting ready to flee, but soon realized it was too late when the water began encroaching. This ended up saving their lives since they were able to seek refuge on the second floor instead of running outside and being swept up by the tsunami. Here, Mrs. M tells us about the horrifying experience as we eat shaved ice that she bought for us during one of our breaks.


The tsunami swept up cars into the trees around her house and filled her first floor entirely with black sludge. A few neighbors were able to swim up to 100 meters to her second floor, despite never swimming before. They pulled some in with rope and the walls were stained with blood from rope burns. They gave emergency aid to one elderly neighbor, but she ended up passing away on the spot. It took her husband, who was away at work at the time of the tsunami, 2 weeks to make it back to the house. Mrs. M and their mother ended up staying 2 weeks on the second floor before being able to move into a friend’s house about a 30 minute drive away. Her mother and dogs survived and are still with her, but her cat somehow made it to the second floor only to pass away.


Here are photos taken by the Self Defense Forces for insurance purposes after the tsunami receded and an initial quick cleaning job of the first floor of their house.


Despite the trauma, Mrs. M was an incredibly bright person, with a warm laugh. She was told that it would cost over $130,000 to fix her house, so they plan to look into renting a new space. Our task was wash the mud and runoff from their belongings so they could take them and try to start a new beginning elsewhere. Here is footage from one of our bike rides to her home that gives an idea of the extent of damage in that part of town.


We hardly had time to take photos of our work, but here is one shot of our washing operation.


The work was hard given the over 90 degree heat and humidity, but was made much easier by periodic breaks and snacks and stories provided by Mrs. M! Also, the work was nothing compared to the harsh conditions of our accommodations. Peace Boat’s philosophy is to be located in the middle of the disaster area to empathize with the victims. But all of the trash and mud runoff in the area and the close proximity of port-a-potties brought a nasty stench and an unbelievable amount of flies.


Also, given the large number of deaths in the area, it wasn’t all that surprising to hear moans, thumps, and strange noises at night and witnessing of ghosts in the group sleeping area.


Here are a few other photos from the nearby area. First, one cleverly named love hotel was not spared by the tsunami.


Here, a sign points to a surviving love hotel that ended up serving as emergency housing.


Here, despite the efforts to quickly clean up gravesites given the cultural practice of paying tribute and taking care of the souls of deceased relatives, they had yet to be able to remove this car from a local cemetery.


As you can see, there is plenty work to be done in terms of aid and recovery in the Tohoku region. Despite the resilience of the people like Mrs. M and the hard work being put into the relief efforts, it will likely take years of effort to return cities like Ishinomaki to a semblance of normalcy.


Your generosity is needed and appreciated. Also, if you have a chance to make it to Japan, set aside a couple of days to sweat a bit and lend a hand!