News / Asia

Sendai Struggles to Hang On After Quake, Tsunami

A Sendai resident carries paper goods on a debris-filled street, March 14, 2011
A Sendai resident carries paper goods on a debris-filled street, March 14, 2011

As search and rescue efforts continue in northeastern Japan, following the country's worst natural disaster, millions of survivors there are trying to get on with life.

Many of are facing scarcities of daily necessities and spending much of their waking hours waiting in lines.  It is a situation younger Japanese have never faced and only have heard about from their parents and grandparents who survived adversity during and after World War II.

Along the estimated 600 kilometers of coastline devastated by tsunami, the city of Sendai is the most prominent place. Its sea port and airport have been destroyed and no trains are running through any of its rail stations. They all were critical links for the city's infrastructure.

Related video report by Henry Ridgewell

The killer waves reached three kilometers inland here, leveling buildings and trees.

Aid Sent and Offered to Japan

  • US: 8 warships off coast, 50 rescue workers, US AID sending 72 personnel and equipment
  • Australia: sends dogs, search, rescue teams
  • Afghanistan: provice of Kandahar offers $50,000 in aid
  • Britain, France, Germany offer personnel, equipment, emergency aid
  • Russia: increases energy supplies to Japan
  • China, South Korea, India offer aid
  • Los Angeles Dodgers and pop star Lady Gaga raise money for relief efforts

Half of the city's one-million people have no electricity in their homes. Hundreds of thousands of residences and businesses are also without water.

Although downtown Sendai suffered some quake damage, it still essentially looks like a modern Japanese city, protected by its relative elevation. A limited amount of commerce continues, in an attempt to supply the stunned population with basic necessities.

Keiko Tanaka, six months pregnant, walks with her mother along a street in central Sendai, carrying a big box loaded with spinach, lettuce and onions. They had waited in line at a green grocer for 30 minutes and said the price of vegetables has doubled since Friday.

Tanaka says they are trying to stock up while they can.

Tanaka says although the interior of her home is a mess because of the quake, she feels lucky to live in this part of the city that still has electricity and running water. But her family is worried how long that will last, especially with scheduled rolling blackouts beginning across the country and official predictions of a magnitude seven aftershock coming any day.

Vegetable shoppers are not the only ones waiting in line. Hundreds of people can be seen patiently waiting to get into the very few clothing, hardware and convenience stores still open.

For drivers, finding an open gasoline station has become nearly impossible. The wait to fuel up can extend for hours.

Nearly all restaurants are shuttered. But in central Sendai, a branch of the Nakau beef bowl restaurant chain has stayed open. It is offering only one menu item - curry wheat-flour noodle soup. Every meal includes a cup of free hot water.

Manager Akihiko Yamaguchi says business has been predictably brisk since the earthquake struck, knocking out most competitors.

Yamaguchi says they have decided to remain open as long as possible to give the people of Sendai encouragement to try to carry on.

Residents, despite their weariness, express confidence Sendai will again thrive, noting the city has faced adversity before during its 400-year history.

Twenty percent of Sendai was destroyed by American bombers during World War II.  It managed to rebuild, becoming the economic hub for this region of Japan.

Images from Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai, Japan (photos by S.L. Herman)


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid