Ian Thomas Ash, originally from New York, is a freelance documentary filmmaker who has lived in Japan for 10 years. When the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit off the coast of northeastern Japan on March 11, Ian felt its effects in the nation's capital, Tokyo. The impact of the quake, tsunami and the ongoing threat of radioactive fallout from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant 150 miles away is taking its toll.
In a recent guest article for Discovery News, Ian documented the impact the ongoing crisis was having on the populace of the nation's capital. He also wrote about what he saw during a trip to the city of Ishinomaki, one of the many cities hit hard by the tsunami. In this article and video, Ian documents the journey made by a group of volunteers led by three brothers who travel to tsunami-devastated Ishinomaki City.
Just one week ago, a close friend of mine was trying to convince me that this time was different. She was telling me that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 had somehow changed people, that people had been affected by this tragedy like never before.
I suggested to her that it always feels that way when a tragedy first hits: the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Hurricane Katrina. At the time, didn’t we all swear that seeing these grief-stricken people had somehow changed us and that we would never be the same? That they would never leave our thoughts and that we would continue to do all we can until the lives of those survivors returned to at least some sense of normalcy?
This week, I have found myself thinking about another dear friend of mine who is still working in New Orleans helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. When I talk about the work she is doing, people often say: What could there still possibly be to do? Katrina was nearly six years ago.
Yes. That is the point. Katrina was nearly six years ago, and there is still so much work to be done.
Travel with me as I go up north with a small group of volunteers to the tsunami-devastated city of Ishinomaki.
The events of March 11 may already be off the front pages of the world’s newspapers, but for the countless volunteers, they are still very much in the front of their minds.