Saturday, March 12, 2011

We are safe and sound in Tono, Japan.

Well I think it is safe to say that we have experienced the most horrific event of our lives, the Otsuchi and Kamaichi tsunami.  We were safe the entire time because we drove to the top of a hill overlooking the town, but we watched over the city of Otsuchi as it was completely destroyed. We had just finished filming some of the porpoise fishermen in the harbor when the earthquake hit. It was so strong we almost got knocked to the ground, the cars were shaking violently. Thanks to the quick thinking of Brian and Scott we drove to the top of this hill overlooking the town, and what seemed like minutes later the tsunami hit. A 50 foot surge of water reduced the city to ruins. Their tsunami wall was washed out to sea, everything was completely destroyed. The ocean receded and then rushed back in more then 10 times, the entire ocean floor was exposed. We saw houses floating in the water, cars floating, a ferry boat was washed on top of a house, and what didn't get destroyed by the wave quickly caught fire. We were stuck on this hill because the road at the bottom on either side was completely gone. The worst thing I experienced was this woman who was sitting on a roof of something getting washed out to see and we did everything we could to try and save her for hours, we even commandeered a fire truck that was left on the hill and had the one Japanese girl who was stuck with us radio for help and use the loudspeaker to make a call for help. We had nothing, no boat, and we listened for hours as she screamed for help. When a local fishing boat finally did hear our loudspeaker, he looked for her, but as far as we know he didn't find her, she stopped yelling. The hardest thing we had to do was stop looking for her and take shelter in our rental cars for the night. We spent the night in our rental cars, we had a local Japanese girl with us named Iuka and we gave her power bars, water and she slept in the warm cars with us, and in the morning we got up and started seeing the dead bodies, a woman hanging from a tree, the wave left her there, people in cars, total devastation. It took us an entire day to walk out of the town, rubble doesn't even describe it. The only way I can describe it, would be if a giant scraped up the entire city in his palms, crumpled it up and sprinkled it back down onto the ground. Hundreds of cars crumpled, folded in half, any wooden houses were either reduced to matchsticks, or they had floated whole into parking lots, on top of other buildings, some where upside down. There wasn't one thing left standing, it looked like a nuclear wasteland. Amidst all of this the locals helped us and gave us food, and we offered our extra water and blankets. There were small camps set up with survivors cooking rice, their dead loved ones lined up under blankets. Everywhere we looked there were people carrying bodies. We finally made it to safety after climbing over the ruins of houses and walking over burning rubble that was melting the bottom of our shoes, propane tanks were exploding around us. One thing that was creepy was the sea life everywhere, fish octopus, scallops, all washed onto the shore. Since the earthquake there have been constant aftershocks, literally every hour or so we get woken up by shaking, not nearly as big as the original, but this place is just rumbling. Thank you everyone so much for your support, the entire time we felt so helpless because we were totally fine but we couldn't let anyone know. 
There will be more detailed accounts posted later, and you can also check out the Sea Shepherd website for some pics and video.

1 comment:

  1. So glad that you're all ok, I can't even imagine what that must have been like for you.

    Sending good thoughts your way from Canada.