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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs