TOKYO (majirox news) – Erika was shocked by the images on the Internet of her hometown. The city of Kisennuma in Miyagi prefecture was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent devastating tsunami on March 11.
Erika left her office, where she works as a Web designer, and rushed home to get more information. She only heard that people were evacuating to higher ground.
The attractive 31-year-old tried to contact her family by phone, but the lines were jammed with millions of people trying to reach family members. One hour later she received an email message on her mobile phone from her mother, saying they survived because they escaped to higher ground. On the same night, her mother sent a short text that said, “We are OK.” That was her last contact from Kesennuma.
“I was so worried and stressed, but finally a week later I got a call from one of my relatives in Iwate prefecture who said everyone was fine,” she said. “My relatives in Minamisanrikucho City in Miyagi prefecture, where 10,000 were missing, were safe as well.”
The infrastructure of Kesennuma was completely devastated, Erika said. Hundreds of people are still missing and more than 40,000 of the residents do not have electricity, gas and water, according to daily reports on the Miyagi prefectural government’s homepage.
Because Erika’s home is on the outskirts of the city, it might be difficult for her family to get food and other necessities. She is worried how her family is surviving, as the weather in Miyagi has turned cold and snowy. She still cannot contact her family or get timely updates on how they are coping. Mostly, she just wants to hear their voices.
Erika expects it will be months for train service to Kesennuma to be restored. To help the town, she has set up a social networking page listing the names of the missing, shelters and information on how to donate to relief funds and send supplies from Tokyo.
She still worries about the people in the devastated areas, especially after reading a blog by television celebrity Takuro Tatsumi called The Hell. In the blog, he said he heard people were dying from lack of food. Erika heard that people were dying from cold temperatures as well. However, this is speculation and has not been confirmed by any officials.
“We cannot lose people who survived the earthquake and tsunami because of the lack of supplies,” she says. “It is really important for us— those outside of the disaster areas—to really think about what we can do and act on it.”
Despite the enormous stress she experienced after the devastation of Kisennuma, Erika plans to give a concert in Tokyo — she’s a member of an amateur rock band and plays the bass guitar — to help the people of Kisennuma.
Tomonari Saito is a special corespondent for Majirox News.