Japan Quake Report – Ishinomaki Tour

The Park Avenue church group joined with the Mito church group to do work in the Ishinomaki area. We lodged in the church building of the Sendai church of Christ. This is used as a staging area for supplies as well as lodging for groups which come up to help.

Our first day together accomplished two tasks. We toured the areas where we would work which gave us a feeling for the magnitude of the destruction and how much progress had been made in spite of it. Second we shopped for food and then prepared it for the barbecue the next day.

We toured two areas where we would work. The first was the Ishinomaki area where we would host a barbecue the next day. Words cannot express the destruction nor the progress which had been made in spite of extensive damage. With hurricanes and floods the destruction generally occurs over a period of time. What we were seeing happened within an hour. While it was hard to contemplate the physical damage done, it was impossible to fully understand the human suffering involved.

The second area we toured was the Onagawa area a bit further from the center of Ishinomaki. Here the typography of the land intensified the effects of the tsunami. With narrow valleys between ridges which jut out to the sea, the tsunami was compacted until the height of the wave was an estimated 60 feet or more. All that was left were the foundations of houses and buildings. There were at least two building which were uprooted and turned on their side. Their foundations were exposed.

Due to ground subsidence areas which were once above the ocean were now under water. Roads will need to be re-routed and buildings moved. In a matter of minutes the lives of these villages were changed. As we surveyed the damage we stopped to pray for those involved and for the work of reconstruction. Much has been done, but there is so much yet to be done and determined – to build or to relocate.

After surveying the damage in areas where we would work, we bought food for the barbecue. Then back in Sendai we began the process of preparing the food for the meal. Onions and carrots needed to be peeled. Hamburger patties needed to be formed and partially cooked. The hamburger and fish were put into foil packets with the vegetables to be ready for heating the next day. Many hands make light work, but it still took about four hours to do all the necessary preparation.