Great East Japan Earthquake in Ishinomaki city, April 2011

Posted in Japan on Monday, 26 September 2011. Print

Our last stop on the coverage tour to disaster areas was Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, the worst affected of the tsunami-hit areas. As of April 26, the city had reported 2,851 confirmed deaths, 2,770 missing, and 11,364 evacuated. Quake damage also included a fire swept sections of Kadonowaki ward, south of JR Sengoku Line. This time, we visited NITORI Ishinomaki and World Home Kagukagu in the area.

Great East Japan Earthquake in Ishinomaki city, April 2011

High demand for daily necessities

On March 11, the massive tidal wave surged through the area around JR Ishinomaki station. Since May 6, JR Sengoku Line services have been shut down between Higashi-Shiogama station and Ishinomaki station; and JR Ishinomaki Line services, which connect Kogota and Onagawa areas, have been shut down between Maeyachi station and Onagawa station. The soundness of tracks near Ishinomaki station has been compromised by heavy corrosion caused by the seawater.
NITORI Ishinomaki is located one kilometer north of JR Hebita station, which is two stops toward Sendai from Ishinomaki station. It was a Sunday, customers crowded the store, and cars packed the parking lot. This area has a concentration of large suburban stores (such as Coop, York Benimaru, UNIQLO, K’s Denki, Homac, and Tsuruha Drug) and, therefore, attracts large crowds and creates traffic jams on the surrounding roadways. Fortunately, this area suffered only slight tsunami damage. NITORI Ishinomaki was spared serious structural damage; only the windows were broken. The store now operates as usual but on a save-electricity timetable.
Home electric appliances and household products such as hot plates, tabletop stoves, cooking gas canisters, and electric kettles are on display near the entrance. Most of these are compact products priced between \1,000 and \2,000. Plastic storage boxes are stacked high along one wall. When we were there, many shoppers were buying cooking utensils, dishware, and cutlery in the dining and kitchen goods section. Futon, bedding items such as pillowcases and quilt covers, carpets, as well as knockdown folding tables and storage boxes also were selling well. Families made up most of the shoppers and the checkout lines were lengthy.
Heading a few kilometers away from NITORI Ishinomaki towards Ishinomaki Bay, we entered one of the worst-hit areas, and our surroundings drastically changed. Although the main road was opened to traffic, the sides of the roadway were strewed with piled up debris, and all stores in the area along the Old Kitagami River remained closed due to severe structural damage; broken window glass obstructed the main entrances. Abandoned cars around the stores remained buried under mounds of rubble. And because electricity has not yet been restored throughout the region, local police officers were controlling traffic at intersections using hand gestures. Groups of volunteers from home and abroad worked here and there alongside local people, moving rubble.
Most people in this area lost their houses and belongings and are waiting to move into temporary housing. What they want most now is a basic life—hot meals and a dry futon—and what they need most to start a new life are the basic necessities. We hope that later on, they will return to the furniture stores in the area to make quality furniture a part of their new life.
Driving along Route 16, about a kilometer from NITORI Ishinomaki towards Ishinomaki station, we found JEFSA’s World Home Kagu Kagu. The quake and tsunami caused severe structural and product damage. Most products were damaged first by the tremors then by inundation. Building damage consisted mostly of collapsed exterior walls and broken windows. The store reopened on April 23, the day before our visit. The second floor remains closed. At this time, they are selling mainly knock-down furniture and damaged products at reduced prices.
Some of the store’s staff have lived in a shelter or a car since the disaster. At the storefront, World Home Kagu Kagu inspires customers with this message —“Let’s overcome the difficulties and start over again. We offer furniture and household goods to start a new life. We’re doing our best to serve you. Let’s do our best together! Ganbaro Ishinomaki!”

Tags: Japan

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