In Japan, A City Shifted By Earthquake Faces A New Reality

Originally published on May 9, 2011 6:38 pm

In Ishinomaki, Japan, the March 11 earthquake has changed the city. Surely, it's changed it emotionally, but it has also changed it physically. The earthquake was so powerful, reports the AP, that some areas of Ishinomaki moved 17 feet to the southeast and sank 4 feet.

The result is that everyday, as high tide approaches, the city floods:

Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by [Yoshiko Takahashi's] front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle.

"I look out the window, and it's like our houses are in the middle of the ocean," says Takahashi, who moved in three years ago.

The AP reports that residents are working around the new reality, getting home before the tide comes in for example. Many of them want the government to rebuild; they have unpaid mortgages and don't want to just pick and leave. But this, experts told the AP, is the new and permanent reality and the local government simply doesn't have the money rebuild the city.

Still residents persist. Back in March, The New York Times posted a video of the city, a dreary and shellshocked one with residents grateful they survived and with no plans to leave:

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