Evacuation and rescue 1

There was water up to the roofs below the pedestrian bridge we evacuated to, so we couldn’t get down even if we wanted to. Snow was also accumulating, and it was cold. The fire department arrived on the scene just before 5 p.m., but the area was so badly damaged that we weren’t actually rescued until 3:30 in the morning. We made it to our facility on the 13th. We could see the marks from the tsunami there, and it was a big mess inside.

The road in front of the office had also caved in, and it was like the water that came over the embankments had hit head-on. It was like the tsunami had come from both the ocean and the river at the same time.

Evacuation and rescue 3

The saving grace of being rescued in the middle of the night was that our disabled trainees didn’t have to see the tragic scene. Some of them have really good memories.

We had a lot of intellectually disabled people in our facility, but not many of them lost their balance. They were just like, “Everything is gone,” or “It got washed away.”

They saved us when they said, “We want to do something. We have to try.”


Number of trainees at the evacuation center

At one of Sakura Gakuen’s business partners, people got trapped in flood and couldn’t evacuate. Fortunately, they were all safe escaping to and stayed on the second floor of the company. They were rescued by the Self Defense Force and came to the evacuation center a few days after the earthquake. I was feeling very uneasy until we knew what was happening with them.

We couldn’t just go around. Some areas were even cordoned off by authorities. We could though send some of our trainees back to their family homes from the evacuation center. There were about 30 trainees, probably 40 including the ones from Moshiono Sato. The number went down slowly to about 20 on around the tenth day.

We operated group homes and their residents were with us too. Not all the facilities were damaged by the tsunami but they were cut off from lifeline, and we didn’t have enough staff members to task in different places. We thought it wasn’t a good idea to have our staff scattered in different places. We wouldn’t be able to deal with all the necessities in that situation with limited number of staff members in different places. All the staff was at the evacuation center. Some of them were taking care of the safety of the trainees, users and residents.