The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake
On March 11th, 2011 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the fifth, largest in recorded history struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The ground shook violently for nearly 5 minutes knocking out electricity, water, and natural gas. The center of town did fairly well, with only a few buildings sustaining any serious damage, but the resulting tsunami came inland several kilometers and utterly devastated our coastal areas, washing away entire towns and claiming more than 20,000 lives.
The main aftershocks, lasted about 2 months, and a number of people in our community banded together to help out with the relief effort. Sendai JETs went out to affected areas helping with the clean up, and also did their part to lift spirits in refuge centers were those who lost everything reside until a more permanent solution is found. At present we are involved in activities in temporary housing settlements, and you can find out more about these projects here.
Thoughts From Sendai JETs
As I write this, I can’t believe it’s only been two and a half months since the earthquake. The days that followed 11 March were a blur of tension and uncertainty, but, walk around downtown now, it would almost seem as though nothing happened. It’s an interesting time to be here.
You may not be coming to the Japan you envisioned, yet you also come when everything you do contributes. Every cup of coffee or meal or karaoke session helps local businesses recover by ensuring people’s livelihoods and, through that, their dignity. For that, we are fortunate to be here.
After the earthquake it took some time for our lives to return to normal. It took a while for all amenities to come back, to get food regularly delivered and for the aftershocks to calm down. However, the living conditions now are exactly the same as they were prior to the earthquake; it was a fairly fast recovery in the city.
Since the earthquake JETs have been getting involved with volunteer efforts. We have been getting involved by doing anything from tidying people’s homes, to helping move mud and debris in the worst hit areas. Recently we have been visiting refuge centres where many tsunami victims still live. We spend the day entertaining the children (and adults) by playing games and doing activities together. The atmosphere is always great and it’s wonderful to give the kids some happiness and see them smiling. It’s a shocking and heart wrenching experience to visit these areas, but ultimately it’s something we must be aware of.