NY1 Reports: Effects Of Japan Disaster Present Unique Challenges In Recovery Effort
As Japan marks one year since the devastating earthquake and tsunami, a group of international volunteers is still hard at work helping one of the hardest hit areas. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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A year later, the Village of Nagatsura looks like it was hit by the tsunami just days ago. The fishing community and scenic tourist spot is one of the last areas to receive assistance.
"They've had to come in and rebuild several miles of road from nothing just to get out here, to get started. The bridges were of course all gone as well. They had to build bridges to get across the rivers. It has just been a technical nightmare," said Robert Mangold of the International Disaster Relief Organization of Japan.
People from around the world have been pitching in to help. The International Disaster Relief Organization of Japan was formed to help volunteers get into the country and actually make it to devastated areas.
"Where I came from in Indonesia when we had a disaster close to where I was living we have had a lot of people from parts of the world helping. And I guess I see this as a way of giving back," said disaster relief volunteer Masyhur Hilmy.
"The land has actually sunk one and half meters. Whereas once you were up on your garden now you are standing knee-deep in water. It has just allowed the ocean to come in and covered everything," Mangold said.
The community tragically saw 70 children swept away in the flooding as they tried to escape. On the day NY1 was there, Japanese volunteers were building a light display to mark the disaster's anniversary which they call 3-11: A way to bring attention to a community they say has been forgotten.
Meantime, international volunteers were constructing a temporary facility for fishermen to store their equipment.
"It is still very, very slow. We would like to see a lot more. It is good to see things start moving. Communities, some of them are staring to get a little more excited," said disaster relief volunteer Andrew Hough.
Many of the beautiful houses remain standing. It is just agonizing for homeowners to come back and see their properties in their current condition. Many want to move back, but it is not a reality because the area continues to flood every day with the high tide.
"There's a lady over here who comes every single day, she washes her house. She cleans everything. She's lived here her entire life. She was born in that house. The tide comes in over top it every day now and just floods that part of town, you can't even get over there," Mangold said.