Day 7: Tsuda Family / by airi katsuta

After riding around my bike around the coastline, and getting lost and going in circles for a while, I finally got back to my hotel. Ted was already waiting for me at the lobby to take me to see Tsuda-san and her daughters.

Ted was very fond of them while he was with Peace boat. They worked on Tsuda-san's house for 3 months from May to August, and a little bit of September. They told me they had at least 100 volunteers come by to help with the clean up.

As you can see from the picture above, Tsuda-san's house was severely damaged. Though her husband is a construction worker for temporary homes, he was very busy working in Sendai. Peace boat came around May, but her husband and her husband's father dug out most of the trash from their house.

Ted and Tsuda-san was reminiscing the cleaning days.

The odd yoga ball was there for some reason. Tsuda-san started sharing what happened on 3-11. "The earthquake was very scary. Anna, my youngest daughter hid under the table. I was watching TV at the time, and when everything started shaking I was trying to hold up the TV! It was expensive so I didn't want it to fall and break!", she joked around. "Too bad I had to throw it away since it got wet. It was a nice TV. Haha."

"After hearing the tsunami warning, my daughter and I left the house in my car. We weren't sure where we were going, but headed to the evacuation center. But on the way, we realized we didn't grab anything. So we drove back to the house using the small streets, and Anna saw the water slowly spreading from the ocean. It was eerie how slow it spread, but cars and houses were moving too." "If we took the main street where it was crowded, we could've been caught in the tsunami." They safely got to the evacuation center on time.

Tsuda-san's eldest daughter, didn't say too much at first. She was looking in to her house in a bittersweet way.  It's so clean compared to before, they kept saying. She also helped out the cleaning alongside the volunteers shoveling mud/sludge. When I asked her where she was on 3-11, she said she was at school. "After the earthquake, everyone evacuated outside. But when we heard the tsunami warning, we went back inside. And then everyone from around town came to our school to evacuate. We were all on the third floor, but the students had to be on the 2nd floor. Like my mother said, the water came in slow. And all the cars were slowly sinking." "We didn't have anything to eat, so our teachers brought candy from the teacher's lounge. We got one piece of candy each. My father came and picked me up after the water had gone down, so I didn't have to stay at school for too long."

The water rose up to where her hand is. The first floor of their house was completely submerged. The glass doors broke so they had so much sludge and trash come into the house. When I asked if they plan on living in this house again, and they said they weren't sure. "We started living in my husband's father's house who lives 5 minutes away. He's happy that we live with him now, but my kid's and my husband goes to Sendai everyday for work and school. We still haven't paid off the house yet, so I don't know if we should move or not." Her kids takes an hour to go to school everyday.

"We started cleaning the house and we found a body in this room. I don't know who it was or how it got in here, but we say a prayer whenever we come here now." A lot of bodies that were found all over town were unclaimed or unidentifiable.

The sisters were very kind and very smart! The older one is going to school to become a nurse or a government health inspector. They both like sports and the younger one is going to a prefecture-wide conference. They also gave me a lot of pictures they took after the tsunami so I plan on scanning them and sharing that when I get back to the states.

Thank you, Tsuda Family!