May 25, 2012

During a visit this month to Kamaishi, JCIE staff visited what remains of one of the city’s junior high schools. Surrounded by mounds of rubble, the images are a haunting reminder of the devastation that occurred that day. But in what was called the “Miracle of Kamaishi,” none of the children at this school were hurt. Thanks to ongoing efforts in the schools, the children had been given instruction about how to respond in disasters, including tsunamis. This effective disaster preparedness program gave children the tools to decide when to evacuate and the confidence to trust their own instincts contributed. The result was a 99.8% survival rate for Kamaishi schoolchildren—only 5 children were among the city’s 1,044 dead and missing.

Another poignant sight in the Kamaishi area were memorials that have been installed since last year’s disaster, including one that marks how far the tsunami rose and urges people to run uphill to save themselves (pictured below; bottom right).