Monday, March 5, 2012

Faces of the Tsunami

The photographer Denis Rouvre spent a month last fall traveling the coast between Ishinomaki and Minamisoma, photographing the devastation, visiting the temporary housing and speaking to the survivors.

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-Tamiko Sato, 86 ‘‘I don’t want to go back there. I found a body between the first and second floor in my house. I went back three or four times without noticing it. It was one of the two people who died in our town.’’

-Chie Kobayashi, 87 “During the earthquake, I just tried so hard to save my husband, who is 102. Walls fell down, but I made desperate efforts to save my husband.”

-Katsumi Suzuki, 72 ‘‘I am in a wheelchair. During the tsunami, I went to the second floor. Water came up to the second floor, up to my neck. All of my body was soaked.’’

-Shigeo Yamase, 63 ‘‘We should keep studying and developing nuclear-power generation to prevent accidents. I disagree with people who say that we should stop using nuclear power entirely. We should use it in a good way.’’

-Kiyoko Sato, 74 “I was with my husband at my sister-in-law’s when the earthquake happened. When I got back to Ishinomaki that evening, we were directed to sleep at the high school. I wasn’t able to get in touch with my sisters and sons for four days.”

-Kohei Itami, 77 ‘‘I can’t rush for things to be better. I try not to think far into the future. I take good care each day.’’

-Sachiko Adachi, 81 ‘‘I try now to find something to do every day that I can enjoy. I am knitting, which I hadn’t done for 20 or 30 years. And I started to paint.’’

-Takashi Momose, 69 “After the tsunami, it was an eerie silence. I was living by myself, so I really appreciated when a welfare commissioner visited me with food. I tried to survive on the food I had at home because I was afraid to go out. ... I learned later that I had been depressed for four months after the earthquake.”

-Masashiro Tateyama, 73 “I enjoy the community in the temporary housing facility. Since I have started gathering and talking with other people, I feel much better. If nobody cared about me and I didn’t have neighbors, I would think about suicide.”

-Tomoko Ujiie, 77 ‘‘Before all of this, I wanted to live with my daughter in Fukushima. Twenty years ago, we made a promise that we would live together. It’s difficult to give up on everything.’’

-Kiyoko Ishimori, 66 “My husband and I stayed on the second floor of our house for four days. After the flood waters receded, I went down to the first floor. The refrigerator had fallen down, but the refrigerator door was closed, with the food still inside. We were saved with that food.”

-Katsuyoshi Hayasaka, 71 “With the radiation, we have to fight with an enemy that we can’t see.”

*Related Article: Low Tide by New York Times