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Apr 29, 2011

Cleaning up after the tsunami

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 29, 2011 01:50 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

April 19, 2011

japan clean up 1I joined the volunteer groups, composed of around 200 people, organised by the Peace Boat last weekend and went to Ishinomaki, around 15 km from Sindai City. What we found there was still the misery sight that should have been gone already, as it has been more than one month since when the earthquake and the tsunami had happened. But the situation still needed more and more support to remove debris and sludge, or the very first-step for revival.

japan clean up 2japan clean up 3One of the main activities we engaged in was to scrape sludge out of the houses affected by tsunami. After being equipped with helmets, dust-proof masks, safety boots, and so on, we left for one shopping arcade in Ishinomaki. They said that the black muddy stream had swallowed up to the height of the 1st floor ceiling in the area only  within 20 minutes after the strong earthquake.

My group helped a coffee shop and a dental office over the weekend. We devoted ourselves to our work, having blessed them to start their work again as a master of the cafe and a dentist as early as possible. After removing the sludge into many sandbags, carrying out the muddy furniture, electrical appliances, and child toys etc., and wiping mud away, we could finally saw the surface of the floor after all two days.

“Arigatou ne (“Thank you very much” in Japanese)!” “Hontou ni Tasukatta yo (“You really helped us a lot” in Japanese)!” said the local people in the shopping arcade to us when we were about to leave there. Tears welled up in my eyes. I strongly believed again that each of us could do something even in a small way, which could piled up and became the big support for the local people to reconstruct their lives and communities.