A tactful staff member

Story: Senshinkai Foundation, Workshop Himawari (Vocational support center for the disabled)
Head of support team: Ms. Junko Ito

Were you at the Workshop Himawari (hereafter Himawari) on the day of the disaster?



Who led the evacuation?

Our staff did. Since there were some trainees in Fureai, and because people believed that here at Himawari it was definitely safe (it’s located 29 meters from sea level), staff members brought those people at Fureai to here by our service cars. Most of the staff members were young and they couldn’t imagine clearly how high or how life threatening a tsunami could be even after they heard about the tsunami warnings. Luckily, our chief secretary had experience working on fishing boat and he said that the area was prone to tsunami. With his advice, people decided to take hillside road to come back. The service cars would have been swept by the tsunami if they had taken seaside route, I suppose. It was the good mixture of ages in the staff that saved their lives, I believe. Thanks to that, all the staff and the trainees could safely come back to Himawari.


How was the tremor of the earthquake?

It was with a scale that I had never experienced before. Desks and photocopiers became fast moving weapons. They were not just moving but moving very fast. Trainees started to cry and shout. We instructed people to cover themselves under the tables but they couldn’t move at all. I hadn’t imagined that an earthquake could be that scary. Everything around you could become weapons. Lockers, photocopiers, tables all move so fast. Not just move, they run fast.


How many were you both trainees and staff at Himawari just after the earthquake hit?

We had 12 female trainees here, and male trainees were at Fureai. As for the staff members, the director and I were here at Himawari while other members were at Fureai.


What happened to lifeline services?

They all stopped just after the quake.


How did you manage to obtain information?

We turn the car engine on and listened to the radio. That gave us basic understanding on the damages caused to the area by the disaster. However, since we needed to save gasoline, we didn’t use the cars very often. We didn’t have a radio in our workshop so our access to information was limited.