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SPECIAL vol.30 Evacuate to as High a Place as Possible!
by vff admin - Sunday, 26 June 2016, 10:16 AM
Evacuate to as High a Place as Possible!

On the day of the disaster, I finished my work earlier than usual and began heading home by midday. While I was shopping at a convenience store in Shichigahama, everyone’s cellphones started ringing with the alarms of an Earthquake Early Warning. I could not identify what the ringing meant and had to ask a clerk. On getting out of the store, a big earthquake started. The warning had also urged us to be vigilant for a tsunami, so I went home, even though the ground was still shaking. At home my wife was outside looking frantic. I said to her, “Load the car with dog food and some water”, and made her hurry up. Then the man of the house next door, who was not able to get information because of a black out, called out to me from the upstairs to ask what was happening. I told him a tsunami would come. However, he said, “A tsunami has never done us much damage, so my wife and I will just shelter in place.” They remained at home. 
After that the tsunami swept the couple away together with their house. The husband died of hypothermia that night. If I had forced him to evacuate with us, he probably would not have lost his lives.
When we reached an evacuation shelter, we were told to wait outside. They said the shelter was flooded because a water tank was damaged by the earthquake. So then I decided to go to the town office, which is located on higher ground. By then, about 40 minutes had already passed after the earthquake. Watching the sea from the rooftop of the town office, I could see a dark black wall rise far off the coast and then swallow the windbreak forest in an instant. At that moment the thought flashed in my mind that my house would have been wiped out in the tsunami because it was right on the beach.
If my work had not finished earlier than usual on that day, my wife would have gone by herself to the designated evacuation shelter. In reality the tsunami had reached that evacuation shelter and a few people lost their lives at that spot. 
Some people had said, “Surely the tsunami will do no harm again”, but I felt uneasy and evacuated to a higher place. I claim that we must evacuate if we feel any uneasiness.

Reported by Yoshiharu Iwamoto (53 years old)
Truck driver
Address at the time of the disaster: Shoubudahama district
Current address: Emergency Temporary Housing at the Lifetime Learning Center