LIFE AFTER THE TSUNAMI

Paulo Nunes dos Santos

 

Years after Japan was ravaged by a 9.0 earthquake that lasted five minutes and launched tsunami waves up to 40 meters tall – the largest recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful seen anywhere in the world since record-keeping began in 1900 – villages all over the northeastern coast of the country are still struggling to recover from the disaster. In Miyagi Prefecture, one of the most affected areas in the country, thousands died and hundreds of families lost their houses. In small villages like Togura most people are still living in prefabricated houses that were meant to be used as temporary shelter for affected families. That situation is mirrored throughout the country where nearly 230,000 remain displaced. In addition to the loss of lives and property, many people found themselves without the basic equipment they need for their work. The few remaining boats that were spared by the tsunami suddenly became a valuable commodity and vital to the survival of entire villages, traditionally dependent on the fishing industry. Frustrated by inadequate government support and the slow rebuilding of vital infrastructure, local fishing communities now work in cooperative organisations to try to survive in a land dramatically reshaped by the power of nature.

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