What made difference between them?

By Kikki - Last updated: 火曜日, 4月 5, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Past experience led people making wrong or good choice at each community
From Ofunato, Iwate-my stricken home town
East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Disaster


The coastline of Sanriku in Iwate was stricken by big tsunami many times in the past. People’s conscious of protection against disasters are usually stronger than other areas in Iwate prefecture. All residents in one community could survive from the disaster but another community could not. What made difference between them?

Oikata Community in Ofunato City 

It will be safe if rushed up to the 2nd floor!-but was wrong choice

Mr. Tomio Tadano, the captain of self-protection organization against disasters in Oikata community looks around stricken site of his territory.



About 300 residents are organized under the self-protection organization against disasters in Oikata community. They had taken all possible measures for expected tsunami, such as appointing a person in charge of warning and evacuation order. Unfortunately, 9 people have been found dead or still missing caused by the tsunami. ‘What they had done with the past experience at the 1960 Great Chilean earthquake turned out to be harmful.’ Some residents said in regret. According to Mr. Tomio Tadano (63), the captain of self-protection organization against disasters, a few residents lost lives at the 1960 Great Chilean earthquake. After the tsunami disaster, housing site in the community was raised up 5 meters in highest level. A colored map was made, that indicates difficult families for evacuation on their own, such as people of aged and difficulty in walking are included. And also, periodical evacuation drills had been performed.Most of lost and missing residents experienced tsunami caused by the 1960 Great Chilean earthquake.The tsunami reached the first floor of their houses at that time. Therefore, most houses were rebuilt with reinforced concrete.Mr. Seiich Kinno (69), an evacuation guide said in regret, ‘some of lost or missing residents might believe that their 2nd

floor would be safe. There was actually enough time for evacuation.’

Sasu Community in Kamaishi City 

 ‘Run away, as soon as possible!’ was the watchword

‘Tsunami comes after a big bam, run away as soon as possible was our watchword.’ All 98 lives in a small community, Sasu, in Kamaishi city could survive. Their quick response to the earthquake and mutual help succeed. According to Mr. Hiroshi Sasaki (67) a chairman of the neighborhood association, ‘although, we have a strong embankment and over 200 trees against the tide, a tsunami in several meters high swept toward the port this time. 13 among 27 houses, all fishery facilities, and about 50 fishing boats were washed away.

Professor Yoshiaki Kawata

In the community of Sasu, 30 lives in the 1896 Meiji-Sanriku Earthquake and several lives in the 1933 Sanriku Earthquake were lost. People always tried to evacuate from tsunami whenever warning was given. Firemen of the community never say ‘please run away,’ but just shout loudly, ‘run away!’ All family of the community has been participated to the annual evacuation drill.

This time, all residents in the community also called out to hail each other and rushed up to the emergency evacuation area on the high grand as usual. Some were aboard on a small truck and bedridden old men or women were carried on the back of the neighbors for evacuation.

An expert in tsunami disaster, Professor Yoshiaki Kawata, the dean of social security school in the Kasai University, suggests, ‘tsunami can reach the Sanriku coastline wihin only 20 or 25 minutes. It is crucial to use this limited minutes for evacuation. If neighboring people can help each other for evacuation, all people will be saved. ’

The 1960 Great Chilean Earthquake

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean earthquake of 22 May 1960 is to date the most powerful earthquake ever recorded on Earth, rating 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. It occurred in the afternoon (19:11 GMT, 14:11 local time) and its resulting tsunami affected southern Chili, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

View Oikata Community in a larger map

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