Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday May 14, 2012 A Day off from Work, But a Sobering Sight

It's Monday and the team leaders are doing supporter relations, logistics, and spending time with their families. So today the Memphis crew and I pile into the van to see more of the big picture of why we're here by visiting Onagawa. Geography lesson: At Ishinomaki, the coastline faces south. East of the river, past Watano Ha is an inlet to a shallow inland sea called nan goku ura with oyster beds. At this point the shoreline turns rugged as the Oshika Peninsula juts southward. But this peninsula is only attached to the main island by a tiny isthmus. On the East side facing the Pacific, the peninsula is notched by a beautiful bay surrounded by steeply rising hills.
This was the fishing city of Onagawa. This is where Chad suggested we visit to see the full force of the wave. It was here in this small but vibrant town that the water reached 50 feet above sea level.
If you are looking at the picture of the hospital on the hill where we parked to take in the view, the first floor was under 6 feet of water. Here and there we saw large demolition tractors crushing the concrete rubble,
some port facilities being rebuilt, a massive debris sorting operation, but most strikingly, a three-story steel and concrete building knocked off its foundation lying over on its side 100 feet away from its original position.
Two similar buildings also lay on their sides awaiting demolition. The most depressing thing to see was block after block of bare flattened lots, once covered in houses and businesses, now scraped clean by the bulldozers. All trace of the previous owners, their homes, their lives, thier dreams now erased first by the power of nature and then by the hand of men. The empty foundations--the sterile levelled plots where once a town lived and breathed--now simply mind-numbing.
We climbed the wide steps behind the hospital to a shrine complex. There we prayed in a circle for the city, its people and that we would be able to be used by God to serve them and give them hope. I think the word "sobering" is the best one I can think of. We also revisited hiyoriyama park overlooking the port of Ishinomaki--the park where Chihiro took us last year. Here we could see a closer view of the massive mounds of debris, with the sorting--wood, steel and otherwise--in progress.
Back at the guest house my laptop is still dead so I'm going to have to borrow Chad's to post these.

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