This Woman Was Swept Away by a TSUNAMI – and Survived
Run! Hurry!! Get up here!! Hurry! THE TSUNAMI IS HERE HURRY! RUN! RUN RUN! HURRY HURRY HURRY HURRY AHHHH NOO…. On March 11th at 2:46 pm Boom! the earthquake hit I had a small house along with those buildings my mother was on the 2nd floor and she couldn’t come down (because of her age) I told her “We’re coming to get you” “take it slow, stay calm” my daughter was there too so I made sure until they both came down and then while I’m moving to this way… I told my kitchen staff “turn off the gas and lights” “everyone let’s get out of here” then we heard a rattling sound we ran this way at the front desk I said “bring the guest list and a radio” “Is everyone okay?” “first things first, get outside!” “hurry hurry!” that’s what I said to everyone and then… I asked another staff “there might be a guest in the bath area” “can you check that out?” “all guests, please follow me!” “let’s go outside” everyone started to gather here disaster prevention announcement was warning…3 meter tall tsunami we set a radio in the center of the parking lot and when we turned it on, the earthquake had stopped for a moment people who gathered here such as neighbors, and people walking down the road, all gathered around here we checked if anyone missing actually, I found out my daughter and 5 year-old granddaughter were missing so I asked “where are they?” at that time I saw my grandchild they were practicing riding a bicycle in the parking lot over there I saw them running up the hill and trying to come here I said “hurry up” then I announced everyone “this is the day to evacuate to the mountain” “for sure tsunami will come soon” that time, I think the earthquake started again I said “let’s go up the mountain now” and we started evacuating to the mountain before the tsunami, I had actually made this evacuation route just in case when I said to everyone, “let’s go there” some of my staff said they wanna go back to their home we were holding a small wedding party on that day the bridegroom was the son of our head chef they did not want their guests to be stuck here I think I asked “using the road by the ocean and river…is there enough time?” “do not leave here now!” I think I said that too at the same time I was thinking tsunami will come here soon any moment so I couldn’t really make them stay here when they wanted to go home anyway I made everyone evacuate to the mountain so I went up the mountain (for the first time) that time, we had plenty of time the ground was still shaking, but we did our best to climb up I made this evacuation route up to 30m high so, everyone went up to that point but when everyone climbed up, I came back here then…. I saw the sea level getting higher people from the town were still gathering in the parking lot the warning bell was struck by someone our staff were in the pine grove by the beach even I shouted, “come up the mountain!” they did not come up so my staff who just came up with me said “Okamisan, I am going to get them now” but in my head, I remembered the words from my grandmother that we should never go back they used to tell us “people who went back…never came back.” so I knew no one should go back down but I also thought that we still have time since the staff is going to get them I went down together when I came down this was the door to the kitchen at that time I went in and changed my footwear to boots because I was thinking that water will come here soon I wanted to be ready for that, so I changed into boots, and start running again the staff was saying “let’s run up the mountain, a tsunami is coming soon” the reason I came here was… the warning bell was on the hill over there fishermen, my staff, and another person were striking the bell so I shouted, “a tsunami is coming hurry! hurry!” from here, the tunnel over there… can you see that hole? at that point, I couldn’t see it anymore so I thought “Oh no, tsunami?!” I tried to run away very fast there were still some cars driving down the road I wondered where they were heading some people were standing there too I said “Hurry up! Let’s go!” my staff and the last woman were here again the staff said “hurry now” we we all ran this way then I looked over there we had a bus in the parking lot over there the bus was lifted up by the wave the wave had already reached here as I ran, I honestly wondered if I would make it I was praying I would make it in time here we had a shed and the evacuation route started here when I turned, there were 2 women coming a few men also joined us from the beach and we all ran up real fast but the people climbing, suddenly stopped going up still, women coming from this way “hurry hurry, the tsunami already came!” then 2 women came running up “let’s head up!” “I think we made it!” probably here, I was taken by the tsunami that time… I was looking to the side but never looked back so I didn’t think that the tsunami was already there I thought “I am safe now on the mountain” but actually, I was in the water the sky was blue, well… there were bubbles coming out in the clear water, the sky was blue and beautiful I was wondering… “why am I in the water?” “maybe I am going to die here…” “so, this is how I die” “I was destined to die at 54…” I was floating and starting up at the sky the next moment, I was in the dark I thought something is covering me and I remembered that I kept a boat beside the mountain so I thought it was the boat covering me can you see that L-shape space? the next morning, 5 cars were lying on the ground my house was completely destroyed above the house, the cars and our bus were piling up… again on the day, when I was taken I was covered with something but I couldn’t move it at all but I needed to get whatever it was, off of me so really struggled…then the next moment It popped right off! the people on the mountain said there was a whirlpool because of that stream, I think it was taken off then I saw the grey sky like today beyond the black water, I could see through to the sky I thought, “oh, that’s the surface…!” “I’m gonna go up there and survive!” “I wanna survive, I wanna survive” so I came up to the surface I reached out to grab the debris the debris I grabbed turned out to be someone’s hand it was soft and warm I asked, “who is this?” “I’m Yoshida, Okami-san keep holding my hand” she was my staff who went down the mountain with me and was caught between the debris and floating over there she saw my hand came up from the water so she caught it but her arm was too skinny and I thought it would break so I let go of her arm as I struggled in the water… I ended up on the tire of our bus and suddenly the water stopped so the staff got out from the debris and came on the tire at that moment, I heard another person choking and saying “I’m not going to make it…” but I shouted, “the wave is coming, go up hurry!” she was the last woman running from the town using her last energy, she came up to the tire three of us, together we helped each other up and got up to the roof of the bus jumped up to the cliff that was the evacuation route I had built before the tsunami “We’re gonna make it!” “We are still alive! help us~” that’s how we climbed up the cliff so, we set up a fire about 60 meters up the mountain but… right before it was getting dark, there was a fisherman who evacuated in the hotel and he came up to the mountain to get us he said “if you stay there, you all freeze to death” so, we could go back to the hotel that night that’s Torao-san, the fisherman I’m gonna introduce to you later he saved our lives after we came back, there were still big earthquakes and tsunami warnings for 3 or so days so we grabbed blankets placed water here and there in the mountain again grabbed blankets we would climb up 30 meters on the mountain every day elder people were looking up at the sky on the mountain we would repeat it every day around the 3rd day, some people said they couldn’t climb the mountain anymore so we decided to wait on the roof of the hotel there were still tsunami warnings, I thought the tsunami could come again anytime we went back and forth between the mountain and roof for 3 days I was scared…yeah I felt like Horaikan(hotel) was like a ship I felt like we were floating in the ocean at night that time, I thought if Horaikan was taken by the tsunami or collapse, that is our destiny because it was snowing even if we went up the mountain, and it was really freezing cold we could die if we stayed up there but there were blankets in Horaikan (so we chose to stay there) knowing there was still a risk of the tsunami coming back but we didn’t really have a choice it was either freeze in the mountains, or stay in Horaikan, we struggled with that choice daily but chose to stay in Horaikan for 10 years, I’ve been just reliving 3.11 over and over as I shared this story I’ve just been living 1 day for 10 years and now, 10 years later… I want to start from 3.12 I want my life to start again from 3.12 everyone! I hope we can meet somewher on this earth someday Come to visit Sanriku~!