Where to start? The light of day I suppose. The car park was full when we woke from our cramped sleeping quarters at the back of the Hiace. We had driven in after 1am and had had a brief yet powerful indication of what was to come. Driving through the areas by night meant the scene was only as large as the headlights and their periphery. While it somewhat softened the visual impact, the darkness and silence added a sense of foreboding. The only sounds were our wheels on the dirt tracks as they manouvered around obstacles that had no place being on the road. Yet there they were.
People who heard the evacuation warnings and fled to higher ground with what ever they could fling into the car. In some cases that was pets in some cases that was clothes in most cases it was just themselves and family members present. Seeing the resultant devastation they fled from was nothing like I had ever seen before, ever! One of the group members is an American fire fighter who volunteered for the destitute animals of Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Chile. He said neither were anything like what he was witnessing on the ground here. Walls of debris piled up either side of the road as high as three storey buildings. Houses just didn't collapse they turned inside out and upside down in the blender the tsunami unleashed. Cars were enmeshed in roofs, boats on top of apartment buildings and whole neighbourhoods just razed and transported further inland. Every so often you would see a teddy bear or a manga or a photograph within the mud and know that there were lives lived here, and now there was rubble.
The car navigation system said go straight
It was so ................ there isn't one word that I could use. It hasn't been created yet and I hope it won't be.I can only use a string of the most awful awful adjectives to describe the scenes.On the other hand the adjectives to describe the survivors are all so positive. It is impossible for any one person who lived in the areas not to have lost someone close. The very poignant feature of the 'Missing person walls' at the shelters was the lack of photos.People just didn't have them anymore.Whole towns literally lost all their worldly possessions in less than 20 minutes. People who worked out of town but lost their houses in town were still finding ways to commute to work from the evacuation centers.I saw a firefighter and his team sifting through debris out near the port and then later on the same man shuffled through the gates of the makeshift accommodation and said "Ta daima" (I'm home)in whispered tones.