On February 11th, 30 minutes after the Tohoku Earthquake, the town of Kamaishi was wiped out by the tsunami. Over 600 people are still missing from this tiny fishing village in Northern Japan. The footage below shows amazing footage of Machiko Kikuchi who narrowly escaped from the approaching tsunami and her determination to rebuild in the aftermath.
3:30 – villagers up on a hillside overlooking the town shout a warning of the coming wave. Machiko came home from work to check in on her 18-year old son who was at home but didn’t have time to go inside.
3:30 – Machiko rushes to get into her car but is swept away while trying to drive away.
4:20 – as houses and buildings are swept off their foundation, her car is picked up and carried off, nose down.
5:00 – Machiko describes looking up at the fading sky through the back window of her car as it starts to sink under the swirling waters. She describes it like, “being at the bottom of a pool.”
5:30 – debris breaks the back window of the car which allows her to escape and swim to the surface and make it to a building’s 2nd floor window, now level with the water.
5:40 – Grabbing onto some curtains, she pulls herself towards the opening and swims through it and across to a staircase which leads to the roof.
6:00 – only then, when she reaches safety, did the impact of what happened hit Machiko. She realizes at that moment that she may never see her son again.
6:20 – view of Machiko on the rooftop, calling for her son. She is trapped, water and wreckage all around her. There is no way to go down and join the rest of the village up on the hillside.
6:30 – before and after view of her house. Last known location of her son. The house is completely under water.
6:39 – Machiko’s son is spotted on the roof of a nearby building!
7:05 – the next morning, 16 hours later. Machiko is still stuck on the rooftop. Luckily she found a blanket to keep her warm for the night. The safety official (with megaphone) tells her the waters have receeded enough for her to try and come down and join everyone else on the hilltop.
7:20 – she crawls out of the wreckage and joins the rest of the village on the hill. Both she and her son are safe and unharmed.
8:35 – surveying the twisted wreckage of her family business of over 150 years, she looks to the reporter and says matter of factly, “There will come a time when we can look back on this. This is my town. I just need to start over again.”