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東日本大震災翻訳プロジェクト〔第16話〕

  • English
  • 日本語

Three months communal life

MIDORIKAWA Naoyuki, 52, Chuodai Community Center, Iwaki city.
Translated by MATSUMARU Ryo

 When the earthquake occurred, I was out. I immediately returned to my office, Chuodai Community Center. When I returned to the center, the citizens who were in the center and the staffs were gathering outside, and they looked nervous. Though I tried to collect the information, all means, such as TV, telephone and the internet, were out of service. Therefore I could not understand what was happening. Around 3:30pm, an old husband and wife came from Toyoma, and said “May I stay here because Tsunami alert was issued.”  They were the first evacuees. Though our center wasn’t designated as an evacuation center, I couldn’t refuse them. I asked them to take a rest in the center.

 After that, people who live in the coastal region had come in the center one after another. At 4pm, the number of the evacuees was increased to 30, and it became double at 9pm. 100 at 1am on next day. Finally it reached up to 200 in the morning of March 12.  From that time, a 3 months’ communal life with evacuees had started.

 For the first 3 days, the evacuees couldn’t sleep well. They lost their words when they saw the situations of various disaster-hit towns through the internet that recovered relatively fast. Some people went out for searching family members who were still missing. It must have been physically and mentally very tough for the evacuees. Under such a difficult situation, they helped each other and were well-ordered. They had voluntarily started to clean the rooms.

 In a few days, families of the staff including children came and helped to distribute the relief goods. People were more relaxed when the children helped the work. Residents of Chuodai also provided assistance to the center. The center’s operation as the evacuation shelter was supported by such assistance. It is also unforgettable that many people from Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamaguchi, etc. also helped us. They cooked and provided food to the evacuees. A cooking volunteer from Osaka told that “this is to return for kindness received at the time of Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake”. Hot meals, such as rice and curry, cooked fish, soba (buckwheat noodles) and fresh vegetable made us very happy as we had only cold and instant meals. On March 29, the Self-Defense Forces set up the temporary bath, and it was the first bath since the 3.11. After taking bath, everyone was smiling.

 As the days passed, the evacuees gradually went out. On June 11, just after 3 months from the disaster, the Chuodai Community Center finally ended the role as the evacuation shelter.

 When I look back that 3 months communal life with the evacuees, I feel that it was very long, and at the same time, it was very short. Now we are back to the regular duties, and sometimes we have visitors who were evacuees at this center. I am very happy to see healthy-looking faces.

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