ROAD vol.4 Evacuees' Short Comments
by Voices from the Field Admin - Wednesday, 30 November 2011, 03:44 PM

Read the prologue to the evacuees' comments listed below

Though it's already been two months since the large quake, I am still moved to tears by people’s kindness. I want children to learn to be grateful to others through this experience. (Woman in her 30s)

Wearing brightly-colored clothes makes me even feel better. (Man in his 60s)

Almost all of my belongings was swept away by the tsunami, only a single memento was left. But to have that one item made me happy. (Woman in her 60s)

After the huge earthquake, my husband was so depressed but he told me that he was happy to be with me. Ever since we got married, he had never said such a thing. Now, he is better again, and he talks about the earthquake to everyone. Talking is good, isn't it? (Woman in her 60s)

My house was left standing [while many people in the evacuation center lost their houses], so I can't complain. I enjoy coming to the evacuation center because the people here are cheerful and fun. It has been almost three months since the disaster; people finally seem to be able to smile again. (Woman in her 30s)

I ran a computer school before the quake, but the whole school has been destroyed by the tsunami. I am determined to have a computer school again. (Woman in her 40s)

I won the right to live in temporary housing, but I don’t want to tell anyone about it. (Woman in her 60s, Ofunato, April 26, 2011)

Any and every time I do something here, I have to be considerate of other people. *Sigh* I’m sure it’ll be the same living in temporary housing. (Woman in her 40s, Ofunato, April 27, 2011)

I heard that we can spend up to two years in temporary housing. They say in some cases, it's ok to live there even after two years. (Woman in her 70s, Ofunato, April 25, 2011)

I can move into temporary housing now, but I am worried as I live on a pension. I hope there will be “radio exercise” [warm-up exercise popular in Japan, which is broadcast to music on public radio early in the morning]. (Woman in her 60s , Watari Town, June 24th 2011)

I won the lottery to live in the temporary housing. I declined the first time I won because it was too far away. This time, it is a little closer. If I refuse again, I have no idea where I might get next time. (Woman in her 80s, Kesennuma, June 25th 2011)

I am going to slowly start getting my house organized because I am moving into temporary housing. The evacuation center is much better than my own house as everyone is all in one place together so you can strengthen relationships. . There are no walls, so you can easily make conversation or even hear couples quarreling – it’s amusing. (Woman in her 70s, Watari Town, June 25th 2011)

It would be nice to be able to grow some potted plants again in the temporary housing, such as bitter gourd or tomatoes. (Woman in her 70s, Watari Town, June 25th 2011)

My family of five won the lottery for temporary housing. Temporary housing is definitely better than here [i.e. an evacuation center]. (A man in his teens, Watari Town, June 25th 2011)

Recently I seem to be able to sleep endlessly. This life at the shelter has made me exhausted, I think. I lost my motorcycle, the roads are damaged, and also most of the shops are closed. So I stay at home and I get sleepy. I fall asleep even during the day. It never happened to me before. (Woman in her 70s, Kesennuma, June 26, 2011)

I was born and raised here. It used to be the most wonderful place, but now, it has changed into the worst of the worst. I am scared to live here. I don’t want to, but it’s not easy to rebuild elsewhere, so I guess I’ll stay. It is said that there will be another earthquake in Sanriku. I probably won’t be able to escape another time. (Woman in her 70s, Kesennuma, June 26, 2011)

I am pleased that I can live together with neighbors both at the shelter and in temporary housing. I am glad o be with people I know well. (Woman in her 70s, Kesennuma, June 26, 2011)

I haven’t drunk alcohol since March 11th. I can’t drink and let loose at the temporary housing unit. (Man in his 60s, Rikuzentakada, June 28, 2011)

I have been supported by many people, so in return I would like to help others in need. […] My husband and I got along well because we each had our own space in our house. That sort of thing isn’t possible in the temporary housing units. I suppose the Ashiyu [foot bath] volunteers won’t visit the temporary housing, will they? (Woman in her 70s, Rikuzentakada, June 28, 2011)

I met this woman [referring to the woman next door] for the first time since moving into the temporary housing. I think people lose their minds after they move in because no one comes out of their units at all. (Man in his 70s, Rikuzentakada, June 28, 2011)

I finally moved into temporary housing, but it is small for 3 people. There are only three rooms of four and a half tatami mats in size, and a kitchen. I wonder where I will live 2 years from now. I have my own land but I can’t afford to build a new house. (Woman in her 80s, Rikuzentakata, June 28, 2011)

My field was spoiled by the tsunami. I don’t have anything to do but just lie around in the temporary housing every day. Because of that, I can’t walk without a cane anymore. (Woman in her 80s, Rikuzentakata, June 28, 2011)

I moved into temporary housing on July 1st. But the BigPalette evacuation center was better because the temporary housing is too hot. I come here at least once a day to cool off. (Man in his 60s, Koriyama, July 10, 2011)

I always take a walk, but the gravel around the housing makes it difficult for me to walk with a wheeled walker. (Woman in her 70s, Koriyama, July 10th 2011)

To tell the truth, I won the lottery for temporary housing. But it is hard for me to say it, because there are people around me who did not win. (Woman in her 60s, Kesennuma, July 10th 2011)

The temporary housing is too hot so I can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because the ceiling is so low. I don’t know how to use the air conditioner, so I keep a window open while I sleep. (Man in his 60s, Koriyama, July 9th 2011)

There is now a bath at the temporary housing. I take a bath with the help of a caregiver. It used to take me 20 minutes to get to a bath house. To go to the dentist or Ohtomo [possibly the name of a hospital] I have to take a taxi and it costs nearly 2000 yen. (Woman in her 60s, Kesennuma, July 8th 2011)

I am looking for a job here now. (Man in his 20s, Kesennuma, July 9th, 2011 )

I have no job so I just pull weeds. Not even the trains are running. I really wonder what’s going to happen. (Woman in her 70s, Kesennuma, July 10th 2011)

Every evening I go to the field to tend to my vegetables and flowers [which he started doing after the earthquake]. (Man in his 60s, Yamamoto, July 12th 2011)

When the earthquake hit Kobe [in 1995], I didn’t do anything because at the time I felt it was none of my business. But now people from Kobe have come here to help us, saying that after their earthquake a lot of people helped them. If I hadn’t had this experience I may have never realized that people can’t survive on their own. So this experience has been very meaningful to me. In the future, if somewhere else has a disaster, I will definitely go there. Sadness does not make me cry but people’s kind words do. (Woman in her 60s or 70s, Yamamoto, July 12th 2011)

The house that I built after 27 years of hard work has been completely washed away by the tsunami. I have only received 1.35 million yen as compensation so far. I want the national government to buy residential land. I want to be able to live with the people from my community, if possible. I want the government to build residential complexes either on higher ground or at the current temporary housing area. The farmers face extreme difficulties due to losing not only their houses but also all their farmland and farm tools and tractors. The farmland has been rendered useless because there are so many nails and broken glass in the soil. (Woman in her 80s, Yamamoto, July 13, 2011)

I lost at pachinko [i.e. slot machine] this morning. All I can do for the rest of the day is take a nap. My concern? I don’t have a job. I used to produce strawberries. (Man in his 80s, Yamamoto, July 13, 2011)

What we need is rice and electric fans. They have been delivered to some places, but not to all. I also want the community hall to be opened to the public, for example, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., since it is annoying to have to go and borrow keys from the group leader. […] My family of three used to run a strawberry farm. But after the earthquake, my son had to get a different job – I feel guilty. (Woman in her 60s, Yamamoto, July 14, 2011,)

I wish there were bus services in the temporary housing areas. The messages and paper fans sent to us from Oita brought tears to my eyes. I would like to write back, but I have to walk 40 min. to buy a postcard – it’s too far. I wish there were a post office in this area. (Woman in her 60s, Watari Town, July 20th 2011)

Once I could finally move into temporary housing, then I had to look for a job. I’m still looking, but there are no jobs. My worries won’t go away. (Woman in her 50s Rikuzen Takata, July 11th, 2011)

I bought school uniforms for both my daughter, who is starting high school, and for my son, who is starting junior high school, but those were all washed away. Though my children never wore those uniforms, we still received the bill. It was hard for me to pay the 100,000 yen. (Woman in her 40s, Rikuzen Takata, July 19th 2011)