5 months have passed since the Tohoku Kanto earthquake. I'm currently in a small town called Onagawa which was completely destroyed by the tsunami. Before coming to Onagawa, I spent a day in Ishinomaki - everything on low ground was destroyed but many houses on high ground still stand and life is slowly getting back to normal.
Onagawa however is silent. We went in the evening where most of the workers clearing up the area had gone home for the day. There is nobody left in the town apart from a few of us from the Peace Boat volunteer team.
Google maps show satellite images after the tsunami but the street views show what this town once looked like before being destroyed. Onagawa was the worst hit town and there is hardly anything left. Shortly after the tsunami, we saw little video footage from Onagawa due to the amount of bodies in the area.
In the video below you may recognize some places in the following photos.
Its kinda depressing to see the street views against the current satellite images. But one thing is certain - Google Street Views have preserved what the streets once looked like and have become an invaluable part of history. Many folks moan about privacy issues about Google street views but many don't realize the importance of this service that Google provides.
After the unprecedented damage, the local authorities have pretty much decided to leave the toppled buildings as they are - not only as a reminder but also to help the future generations to work towards preventing such disasters.
Some local folks however want the place cleaned up who feel that its embarrassing to leave these buildings for others to "glee" at.
How do you feel? Should the toppled buildings be demolished or left as is?
To us this may seem like rubbish but to somebody else this could be a precious memory for one who has lost everything. One of Peace Boat's task is to recover and clean photos and items which could be part of somebodies memory and hand them into a center where all lost and found belongings are kept. A note of the place and time that the item was found is also kept with the belongings.
Spent the day with Hiyarama-san who took me around to see all the various volunteer activities that Peace Boat were doing in the area. According to the locals, money from the Red Cross society is not getting through. One of the reasons is that folks want the money to be distributed evenly but nobody wants to take responsibility of deciding what "evenly" is.
As a result, many folks are still suffering. Without the help of the volunteer groups in the area (not just Peace Boat), I honestly don't know how the local folks would survive without help from the outside. In the next post I will cover the situation in Ishinomaki and then talk about the volunteer activities of Peace Boat and give you details of how you can help.