Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sendai, mile 0 of the tsunami

The road passes through the small town of Nishikigaoka. On one side, long lines of people waiting their turn in silence, facing the door of a large supermarket. A little further up, on the other side, the line is motorists patiently waiting their turn to fill part of the deposit. They are the first signs that we near the city of Sendai, the capital of Miyagi province, one of the hardest hit by the tsunami that followed the earthquake of nine degrees on Friday struck the northeastern coast of Japan in the worst earthquake history.

The city surprises. His buildings show little sign of having endured an earthquake of grade nine. But the feeling of sadness, helplessness before the forces of nature, is visible in its people. Most shops are closed. And the few that are open are easily reachable by long lines of people waiting their turn to enter civic to buy the few remaining products on shelves own times of plenty.

Many of its residents have no water, no electricity and phones were of little use. "Due to the effects of the earthquake the service is overloaded," he repeats again and again a female metal voice, when you try to call via mobile phone. And gasoline is also scarce. Proof of this are the crowds at the few service stations in neighboring towns, such as Nishikigaoka.

"More than four hours waiting and I have not been able to fill the tank, and I really need gas," said Akiko Motoko, a retiree of 64, who is forced to sleep with her husband inside the vehicle have , because the tsunami engulfed his home. Many of the million people who live in this city carry the brand in the face of the tension, the stress suffered in recent days.

The aftershocks are repeated and even the Japanese are accustomed to, the earthquake last Friday have been scarred for life. But they remain friendly and supportive. "" I can help, asks Toyo Nakamura, a university professor, who in a hurry to catch a bus to take you to Tokyo, but it is entertaining to tell her story to this reporter: "When the quake struck was on a taxi.

The car was rocking a lot. Fell into a big bump. I thought we were capsizing. In the end nothing happened, but I spent a lot of fear, "said Nakamura. How far did the water, I ask. "It's far from the center. It is still dangerous to go there. There are many relief teams working in that area, "said Professor Nakamura.

The place is easily reachable. As you approach you hear the wail of fire engines and ambulances and the arrival is preceded by a large clearing where waiting army trucks and helicopters. Brigades of workers and volunteers are busy cleaning access to an area of \u200b\u200bfields and waterlogged paddy fields.

The first land are in pretty good condition. It shows the effectiveness of clearing services. But as one progresses, water trails left in its wake are evident. On both sides of the road are piled all kinds of debris, uprooted trees, cars built against walls of some houses that have withstood the pressure of the water or a yellow sofa in the middle of a field flooded waiting for his owner feels watching television.

Or even a phone booth, with its yellow-pages directories of mojadaspero still intact, he became silent witness to the tsunami. Further, in the last mile before reaching the sea, the outlook is bleak. Traces of water power are more evident. A dense black mud walk easily prevented. There are houses that appear to be in good condition, but a quick look inside glimpse as water in its wake destroyed everything that was inside.

"The ground floor of my family's house was destroyed," said Sato, a 26-year-old working in the paddies, while watching with sadness the remains of homes that were part of his neighborhood. "We saved all: My grandmother, my parents and my two older sisters," he says. Sato and his family took refuge in a school in Sendai enabled as a refuge.

"But short of food and warm clothes as the night is very cold," says this young man. A few steps later, I get a dented car, half sunk in the mud, and a little beyond a truck turned over, as if someone had been playing with him. Missing a few hundred to reach the sea, but the police do not let it go further.

pass by my side teams of dozens of volunteers. None spoke. No laughs. The latter carries a tiny camera and films everything in its path. Moves through the ground filled with water. and mud. Some are separating debris, tree branches, small furniture, dolls, balls. Others, with long poles, looking bodies buried under mud.

They work in silence, fearing perhaps find one of yours. Further, the cranes are in charge of separating the larger debris, some cars, at the whim of water have been suspended one above the other, full of clay, iron and weeds. And facades of houses have collapsed and been washed away. Kentaro, the taxi driver who brought me closer to this large landfill that has turned what were once whole neighborhoods of homes, crops and paddy fields, observed with dismay what remains of it all and said: "We were prepared to survive an earthquake, but not a tsunami.

The land can not resist the water, "sentence. c "We were ready to survive an earthquake, but not a tsunami. The land can not resist the water, "" Four hours waiting to fill up, "says the retired Akiko Motoko.

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