4 Stories From Survivors Of The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami

A lifeboat is sent from a Japanese military vessel to rescue the man sat aboard the roof of his house

Leaders should always live their lives with the end in mind.  The Daily Mail has chronicled some stories of the survivors of this past weekend’s tragic events in Japan.  The great lesson to me was the commonality of each story is that when faced with death, it was their family that was most important. 

Hiromitsu Shinkawa was found floating nearly ten miles out at sea on the roof of his house, two days after the quake struck.  As the wave approached his home city of Minamisoma on Friday, the 60-year-old and his wife made the fateful decision to return home to collect belongings.  Minutes later Mr Shinkawa was being dragged out to sea in swirling currents.

He was eventually spotted by a navy vessel searching for victims, clinging to the wreckage with one hand and waving a makeshift red flag with the other.  After being hauled on to the rescue boat, Mr Shinkawa burst into tears when he was told that his wife was still missing.  ‘No helicopters or boats that came nearby noticed me,’ he said. ‘I thought that day was going to be the last day of my life.’”

Harumi Watanabe recounted gripping her elderly parents’ hands as the tsunami crashed through the windows of their family home.  Her parents could not hold on however and screamed ‘I can’t breathe’ before they were dragged under water.

What made Miss Watanabe’s story all the worse was that she drove home after hearing warnings of the coming tsunami.  ‘But there wasn’t time to save them. They were old and too weak to walk.”

Miss Watanabe then entered into a struggle for her own life.  “I stood on the furniture, but the water came up to my neck.  There was only a narrow band of air below the ceiling. I thought I would die.”

Yuko Abe tearfully says, “I am looking for my parents and my older brother.  I also cannot tell my siblings who live away from here that I am safe, as mobile phones and telephones are not working.”

www.mirror.co.uk tells the story of 70 year-old Sai Abe rescued in Otsuchi, a city destroyed by the tsunami.   

“Stunned rescuers found her huddled inside the remains of her home, which had been washed away by a wall of water.  For 92 agonising hours she lay inside the ruined property, uncertain if anyone would hear her cries for help.  She was suffering from hypothermia but was conscious and officials said last night that she was stable. 

Her son, Hiromi Abe, said he had tried desperately to save her in the immediate aftermath of the quake.  He said: “I couldn’t lift her up and she couldn’t escape because her legs are bad.  I’m happy, but not completely. We were with my father and he’s still missing.”

We are all still praying for more stories of survivors to be found and rescued.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

3 Responses to “4 Stories From Survivors Of The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami”

  1. Brian,

    Thanks for the reply and the space to let folks know about my business.

    I’ll be opening an Insurance & Financial services practice as a captive Agent with the largest Auto & Home insurer in the country. I’m looking forward to being a “good neighbor” to the Suwannee, GA community. We’ll be located off McGinnis Ferry at Old Atlanta in the Publix shopping center.

    Our vision is to help our clients dream courageously about what they want to accomplish personally, professionally and financially. Then develop concrete steps of action to reach those goals & dreams.

    We will open our doors on July 1st. You can check all the pre-opening excitement at http://vanblogs.com.

    Brian, thanks again for the space and for connecting with me. I look forward to working with you to further His kingdom.


  2. Brian,

    As I sit in a lonely hotel room, missing my family, in the middle of a month long road trip, I found myself yearning to be back with them. It’s who I am. I’m a Daddy and a Husband

    As I keep rubbing ny eyes from the lack of sleep in preparation for my new business, I consider it a badge of honor to be so weary. It means I’m preparing my team to be the best they can be. It’s who I am. I’m a leader.

    As I read your post about the devasting affects that the natural disasters have had in Japan, my heart breaks. I’m given the perspective that there are hurting people all over the world that have a small window of time called life, that need to hear the Gospel. I can’t wrap my mind around how people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ can cope with the loss of a family member, friend or co-worker. So I pray to a sovereign God as an intercessor for people I’ve never met, because it’s the least I can do & at the same time, it’s the most I can do. It’s who I am. I’m a Christian.

    • Van,

      What a great note. I’m with you when I’m in hotel rooms. The loneliness sets in and I miss my family dearly. Hotels always put me in a reflective mood as well.

      What type of business are you starting? Tell us about it and perhaps the readers can give you some business.


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