I Want to Feel the Same Pain, Be thankful, and Keep Working Together
2012.12.23 update 2011.12 iwaki city
Miki felt a big shake. Then just after she hid herself under the desk, the ceiling fell down on her. She was shut in the rubble. Miki heard others rush out the office. She beat the desk and shouted for help. But her SOS didn't reach to them in chaos of mega shake. After a while, a dead silence reigned the office located in the area of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
"Miki is not here!" People got panicky. Two male employees immediately wore helmets and ran back to the shaking office.
They called to Miki and listened carefully to catch her voice. Got it! Following her voice, they removed the ceiling panels one by one. Then they found her. "Give me your hands!" They pulled her up from the rubble.
"I thought nobody would come" she cried.
Heading for her home by car, Miki listened to a radio telling about the earthquake.
"Tsunami in now coming over to Tomioka and Yotsukura, near Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant."
* * *
Yohei and Shota, Miki's father and younger brother also worked at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They were at a hall with many other employees. Tsunami surged high and swallowed cars and plumbing outside.
After a while, waves receded. Yohei left for his home and Shota stayed at Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Yohei lost his car. So he walked for 3.5 hours and finally arrived at his home. His wife, Mariko was alone inside without any lamp. Electricity, gas, water...all the utilities was totally shut off. Yohei changed his sweaty clothe. He and his wife boiled water with a table-top cooking stove and shared a cup of instant noodle.
Strong aftershocks continued that they woke up again and again in the darkness. Then, their light sleep ended with a loud shout.
* * *
"Get them in quickly. Go, go go!"
When Yohei and Makiko opened their eyes, the morning sun slightly came in the room. The shout seemed coming from a parking of their neighboring house. Yohei and Mariko got out from the bed, opened the window and looked down. Their next-door neighbors were just packing their stuff such as blankets, portable coolers, and cushions into 3 cars.
"Hey, what's going on?"
Mariko asked them still half-asleep.
"Didn't you listen to the radio!? An evacuation order was issued at 6:30 a.m.! We must evacuate right now! Bus was provided by city government but too many people on the queue. Just use your own car and escape as far as possible!"
The next-door neighbors told Mariko without stopping packing.
(We can be back soon) Yohei and Mariko didn't take it so serious. They just brought their wallets and he headed for their daughter, Miki's house.
When they rang the doorbell, Miki in pajamas showed up.
"What's up, mom?"
"Oh, you didn't listen to the radio either, did you? Evacuate order!"
After Miki's has ready, they got in their cars.
* * *
The road to Route 288, an evacuation route was in a heavy traffic.
"The Nuclear Power Plant exploded" the news suddenly caught their ears.
Yohei turned pale and everyone got freeze.
"Can't we go back any more? Never again?"
"No, we can't. Sorry, but we cannot." Yohei moaned.
When they arrived, the shelter was already full of people. They returned to their cars and wrapped themselves in blankets.
At midnight, somebody knocked the window of their cars. There was a self-defense official.
"Last night, the one sleeping inside his car died from cold. So you may not sleep in your car."
The self-defense official guided them to another shelter. That place was also jammed with evacuees.
The next morning came. But relief supplies didn't come at all. This was because the shelter was just new and not registered to city government yet. Evacuees in hanger gradually got into a bad mood. Once being known as a family working at nuclear plant, Yohei and his family were put in a difficult spot. But they started to help others. They bought tableware, toilet papers, and foods. They opened soup kitchen. If kerosene for heater was running out, they went for buy it. They sealed up the window of the shelter to shut out radioactive substances. They even cleaned toilets every day. They just kept working.
One day, Mariko's relative who live outside Fukushima offered them for a stay at his house.
"You must have got information about another explosion from TEPCO. Are we in danger?" "Let your wife and daughter go there, but you should stay here!" Other evacuees yelled one after another.
"I will stay here." when Yohei answered them, Miki burst into tears.
"Why do you have to do that, Dad? Why?"
At the moment, a lady spoke out.
"None of us can stay here for long. Everyone will leave for his new place some day. You just go right now."
Arriving at Mariko's relative's house, Yohei got a phone call from his company and eventually went back to Fukushima again. All he had was cardboards, blankets, and canned foods. In such a severe condition, he had to work to settle the nuclear accident.
His daughter, Miki lost her job.
On the other hand, Shota, who stayed at nuclear power plant, has kept working for settling cables of lost power sources since the nuclear accident occurred. He could finally meet his family after 51 days from the day of the accident.
* * *
0n July 2011, they could make a brief visit to their house for the first time. It was a hot day. Their house was filled with nasty smell. They quickly picked up a minimum stuff, held their breath and ran out of their house. "Oh my God. Is this really our house?"
"Even if the evacuation order is lifted, our children and grandchildren would not come back to this town. We, only adults cannot recover economy, cannot picture a future without them. At the beginning, we felt that we lost so many things. But after seeing our house that was completely changed, our willingness to return home was also disappeared. Provision of alternative place or compensation would be much better than returning home. If we get those, we can find a new place and move on to the next step. I need the place where my daughter and son can visit at ease.
Our lost town was nice to live in, good to bring my children up. We cannot say anything about the present situation because it is a fact that we've got a lot of benefit from nuclear power plant. Yet, anything is just beyond our expectations. We cannot go back to where we used to be, and we need get used to our new place. We lost our jobs. Our life was totally changed."
Then now, Yohei is still working at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
"I'm always thinking of my coworkers who devote themselves at nuclear power plant under the risk of radiation exposure. I never forget that my life is supported by so many people. I'm thinking of people who got forced to change their lives by this nuclear accident. I want to feel the same pain, be thankful, and keep working together with them." He said.
(Translated by Shizuka Hayashi)