The Tsunami brought with it incredible destruction.
Many people’s lives were lost. This was incredibly sad. Rabbi Edery, helped the Japanese army in the first days, find bodies among the debris and absolute destruction.Many people put pictures of their missing loved ones on the bulletin boards of the city halls, asking did anyone see them. It was of utmost importance to give the last respects to people who passed on and bury them as soon as possible.
Houses, buildings, factories, cars were all crushed and wiped away. You could see people going back to the place of their homes to try to salvage things, maybe pictures of their ancestors, or other important things. But mostly everything was carried away by the waters.
In the first week, the people whose houses were destroyed were staying at the city halls. The problem was there were no showers or enough toilets for so many people. Rabbi Edery and his staff took the people to the local onsens. This way they could shower and feel human again. They made many trips back and forth every day to the onsens so that everyone could have a turn.
Sendai Airport was completely destroyed, there were no flights.
The roads to Tohoku were mostly destroyed and unsafe to use. People could not get basic supplies because the trucks bringing the merchandise could not reach Tohoku. Stores were emptying out. Gasoline was scarce, because gasoline trucks could not reach the North. The government decided that relief workers would receive gasoline first. Rabbi Edery and his staff, Japanese Army all received special permits to use highways.
Interestingly, trees did survive. Some trees were submerged till the top in water, but did not break, since the roots were very deep and strong.
Some people hung on to tree tops and miraculously survived the great waves.
Man is likened to a tree. Just as a tree has strong roots and can survive strong winds and waters, typhoons and tsunamis. So too every person has a G-dly soul that gives the power to stay strong and rebuild after destruction and trauma.
The Tsunami also brought with it a renewed power of hope, strength and resilience to rebuild and renew as individuals and as communities. From this destruction came a lot of growth and development on many levels. Many connections and friendships were made as a result. Rabbi Edery made many friends and was appreciated and loved by the people of the North.