Remains of the day – clearing debris from devastation in Ibaraki

The horror we witnessed to Japan’s Northeastern shoreline is unforgettable. Yet there are many who are in hidden pockets of need, like those further inland where roads and relief do not reach easily and pride keeps calls for help at a distance.
We are told of families up in the mountain areas closed off from the city by damaged roads and lack of gasoline. There is no running water nor heating fuel. The home we visited was not too far inland and not badly structurally damaged but we were not far from more severly hit homes.

Our volunteer team of 8 was driven to the home by the coordinator from the City office. Two were 65-year plus veterans; one was an unemployed construction worker who had driven from Gunma and was sleeping in his car. The other older worker was from Hyogo who rode up with a friend to help with relief efforts. We also had five freshly minted graduates who were set to start work in April (officially) for the KitaIbaraki City Fire Department. All I could think was at least they had jobs this spring.

Our task was to clear the entrance of a home about 15 km inland that had its walled parameter knocked down by the earthquake. The husband was away trying to find gas and clear up his factory. His wife and two young kids were trying to make what they could of the challenging situation. Aside from the structural damage in the house, the exterior had 100 kg slabs of wall blocking the entrance. There were many fallen slabs, all too heavy to lift so we used a large sledge hammers to break them up to smaller more manageable pieces. We managed to clear the area in several hours and I had a chance to speak with a neighbor who’s older home was more severely damaged.

“You are the first to come inland to help us. There are more homes up the hill much worse than ours but they are too proud to ask for help.”




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