The videos and photos of the tsunami are well known, what is less known is how the areas look now, and how they are recuperating. From our time there, we can say with a reasonable amount of confidence, that the area is far from recuperated and that it is very difficult to imagine a time when it will be. Recovery depends very much on individual circumstances, but it has often been said that it takes around 7 years to recover from serious emotional damage. To date, it has been a little over 2 years since the disaster.
The people we have spoken to on our trips vary in their ability to socialise. Most seem very well adjusted at first, but are hesitant to talk about details or personal stories of tragedy. Once the conversation moves beyond the superficial, raw emotions begin to surface. What seems to be happening in 2013, is that the adults are generally finding themselves capable of motivating themselves to go back to work and begin rebuilding their lives, while the children are showing signs of serious psychological damage. Because of this, we have been working on ways to include children into our activities.
There has been constant improvement in infrastructure rebuilding, but in many places this remains inadequate. The temporary houses are isolated groups of around 20 to 40 dwellings (on average), located on high land. Travel between these locations is difficult, as transportation is not widely available. There are very few supermarkets and almost no places where communities can gather, although there are frequent events such as festivals and concerts for those who are able to travel. The low laying land is, for the most part void of structures. Machinery are at work clearing the foundations of buildings and the train line remains as a ruin. Some sections of the train line are now being used as roads. Debris can still be easily found, as can half destroyed buildings. The large tuna ship in Kesennuma remains, but will be removed at the request of locals.
For more photos, please view our Facebook galleries.