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Japan, Project Tohoku, volunteering

Finally Some Field Work

Sunday afternoon I managed to get out onto a job site for the first time since the day I arrived. I spent my time lugging steel floor tiles and wet cardboard boxes for a man with a bad back. The property was his software company as well as his home and we piled what must have amounted to years of work into a heap to be tossed away. Thankfully most of his work just prior to the tsunami had already been delivered and he had relocated his staff and continued production. In a place where so many livelihoods have been destroyed along with homes, this is good news in deed.

The tidemark on this building was higher than the ground floor ceiling. Three doors down there is a car, neatly stacked on top of an SUV. And yet because of the gradient the house across the street is untouched. It is unlike the disaster zones I’ve been in before where destruction seems much more random. Here you can cross the street from regular small town Japan to block-after-block of bare foundations and the piles of debris that are the houses that once sat on them.

We moved all that we were asked to move in that single afternoon, clearing two flood-damaged kareoke boxes which the homeowner had been loaned as temporary storage. It was good to get out and get dirty again. I might be back behind my tiny desk again but my muscles remember!


About Jess UK

Fell in love with the crazy, inspiring, all-or-nothing world of disaster response and the wonderfully ridiculous, hard-working people who are drawn to it. Currently working in the Philippines as part of the recovery efforts after Typhoon Washi/Sendong! Want to know more? Check out disasterchasers.wordpress.com.


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