This week saw the one-year anniversary of the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake that unleashed a tsunami and terrible devastation onto the Japan prefectures Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi. It was one of the top five most powerful earthquakes since modern record-keeping began in 1900. It is the most powerful, that we know of, to have ever hit Japan. It caused numerous nuclear accidents, affecting hundreds of thousands of Japanese residents.
According to the Japanese National Police Agency, the disaster resulted in nearly 16,000 deaths.
There are more than 3,000 people still missing. About 325,000 people became homeless in an instant.
It is estimated to be the most expensive natural disaster we’ve ever seen, at 235 billion USD.
One year later, though many buildings and roads have been repaired, there are still echoes of the devastation.
In a CNN story, “Japan one year on: What’s changed?” Peter Shadbolt writes that one of the most problematic issues facing reconstruction is the amount of debris — 15.69 million tons of it — according to Japan’s Environmental Ministry, that’s equal to 19 years’ worth of regular waste.
Progress is slow-going. Some residents waded through nine months before seeing any significant efforts toward reconstruction in the devastated area. Residents of the affected regions are wondering why it’s taking so long. Others say that perhaps it’s prudent to abandon the areas, rather than rebuild.
As for the rest of the world, many have forgotten.
The number of news stories about the disaster peaked last March, when the disaster first hit. However, by April, the number of outlets covering the devastation had already tapered off. While the devastation was unmatched in recent history, Japan only received about $47 million in donations right after the disaster hit, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In contrast, the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti garnered $150 million — raised in the same amount of time.
We must not be the ones who forget. There are so many people who still need help, people who have lost family members and their homes.
Today, the American Red Cross is still accepting donations for Japan. Visit www.redcross.org to donate. The Salvation Army is still accepting donations through text messaging. Text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation. (end)