Escaping from Tsunami

Story: Shima Fukushikai Foundation, Sakura Gakuen Vocational Support Center for the Disabled
Director (at the time of the disaster in 2011): Mr. Atsushi Sano

We knew Tsunami warning had been issued as someone turned the radio on.

Then emergency siren went off, and we all thought something serious was happening. Radio announcers were also mentioning the possibility of tsunami. We thought we would better leave the facility because we were located near the coast. There was not much hesitation in deciding to evacuate immediately.

Our evacuation center was Suginoiri elementary school two to three minutes away by car. My thought for these situations had been to bring people up in higher grounds, so the first step was to go diagonally across the street to the premise of a supermarket which was in a bit higher place than ours. There was an access from the shop’s rooftop parking to a road behind it, which was in a higher ground. We decided to bring everyone to the rooftop by shuttling them with our cars.

We asked the one who could walk to do so. We were to shuttle in a couple of rounds those who would need more time to walk there. We were going to abandon the cars if they were caught in heavy traffic, but it was going to be faster while the traffic was not bad. By using office cars and some private cars, we could bring everybody on the roof of the supermarket as our first step.

I was going to take the last car from our facility, and we were going to meet at the rooftop parking. The persons on foot were also going straight up to the parking, if I remember correctly. We were all there in less than half an hour and we needed to decide what to do next. Not all the members were in cars, and it was a very cold day. We thought we’d better seek shelter in a place with a roof and walls. And we knew our assigned evacuation center was the Suginoiri elementary school.

It was about three to four hundred meters to the school from the supermarket on flat road. The ones who were on foot continued to walk and we drove the ones who were in cars. We had no information whether the school would actually accept us or if there were already other people seeking shelter there. We just headed to the school without knowing these things.