English translation of explanation panel
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Remnants of Namie Town Ukedo Elementary School
The Great East Japan Earthquake taught us that we never know when, where, or how a disaster may strike. May this remnant be a reminder to reaffirm your disaster preparedness by witnessing and experiencing the threat and outcome of a disaster, and we hope that you can prepare for the disaster to come.
About Namie Town
Profile of Namie City
Location: 37°29’29”N 1412°0’1”E
Area: 223,14 km
Population: 21,434 (including 108 foreigners) *As of March 2011 (before the Great East Japan Earthquake)
Number of households: 7,671 households *As of March 2011 (before the Great East Japan Earthquake)
Primary industry Secondary industry Tertiary industry Year 1960 Census 60.2% 15.2% 24.6% Year 2010 Census 9.1% 32.9% 57.9%
After high economic growth, people shifted from a lifestyle centered on the primary industries of agriculture, forestry, and fishing to secondary and tertiary industries.
Ukedo Elementary School
Ukedo Elementary School was founded in July 1873, when Hirogyo Elementary School was established at Zenichi Hamatani's residence. After that, it was renamed five times until becoming Namie Town Ukedo Elementary School in October 1953, and has been loved by the residents for many years in the Ukedo region. It was in March 1998 that the reconstruction of the current school building was completed. The current Ukedo Elementary School is located about 300 meters from the coast.
Overview of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Earthquake name: 2011 Tohoku earthquake off the Pacific Coast
Occurrence time: March 11, 2011 14:46
Epicenter: Off Sanriku (130 km off the east-southeast coast of Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture)
Latitude and longitude of epicenter: 38°06.2‘N 142°51.6’E
Depth of epicenter: 24km
Situation of Namie Town (due to the Great East Japan Earthquake)
Seismic intensity: Seismic intensity 6
Tsunami arrival time: 15:33 (Namie town coast)
The town, which recorded a seismic intensity of 6, and the subsequent aftershocks, caused damage to houses. The tsunami hit the Ukedo, Morotake, Nakahama, Kitatanashio, and Minamitanashio districts, which face the Pacific Ocean, claiming the lives of many residents and washing away their houses. The area inundated by the tsunami is about 6 km (3% of the town area).
Situation of Namie Town (evacuation orders due to evacuation orders of the nuclear plant accident)
It says in the display panel that "It exceeds the normal value, but we are investigating the cause."
The residents lived together with their pets and livestock. During the evacuation, people thought that they could return to their homes immediately with their animals. Then the government ordered the euthanasia of livestock in restricted areas. As soon as the owners gave their consent, the procedure was performed. ・June 2011 in a private residence
Damaged Ukedo Elementary School and its current situation
Ukedo Elementary School had one class for each grade level at the time of the earthquake, with a total of 93 students enrolled.
Students in grades 2 through 6 who were enrolled at the time escaped the tsunami by evacuating the school with the teachers. The first-year students had finished the fourth period and had already left school when the disaster occurred.
The tsunami reached the second floor of the school building after the children were evacuated, and after a long period of evacuation due to the nuclear accident, the school could not be reopened, but it changed its role as an earthquake disaster remnant.
・May 9, 2011 Damage in the 1st floor school building
・June 24, 2011 Message of encouragement left in the school that was the base of the search (music room)
・December 12, 2016 It took about five years until full-scale cleanup began.
・February 8, 2019 The review committee made a proposal for the preservation of Ukedo Elementary School as an earthquake disaster remnant.
Ukedo district before the tsunami
Although some houses collapsed due to the earthquake, most of the buildings remained on site until the tsunami hit. (as of March 11, 2011 at 14:57).
Ukedo district after tsunami
After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the huge tsunami swept in and washed away most of the houses.
Ukedo Elementary School Story Beyond Mt. Ohira
On March 11, 2011, the students and teachers of Ukedo Elementary School hurried to Mt. Ohira, 1.5 kilometers away, and were evacuated with no one missing from the tsunami that surrounded the town. Let's take a look at the school's damage, as well as this true-life story about how they managed to escape that day.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Ukedo Elementary School had 93 children attending school.
Eleven 1st graders went home after the 4th period, but the students from 2nd grade to 6th grade were still at school.
The 5th graders were preparing for the graduation ceremony to be held on March 23 (Wednesday) in the gymnasium.
The 1st graders will be the older brothers and sisters. Everyone is filled with expectation and anxiety.
It was right before the end of class.
With a loud roar, the school began to sway. "Oh、 Earthquake!"
14:46 An earthquake with a seismic intensity of upper 6 occurred.
There had been an earthquake a few days earlier, so the children hid under their desks, wondering if there was another earthquake, and waited for the shaking to stop.
However, the shaking did not stop, and the desk moved several dozen centimeters.
The 5th graders in the gym were squatting down and trying to protect their heads with their hands.
14:47 Safety confirmation and school announcement
After calling for the safety of the children on the school announcement, the teacher gave instructions to evacuate to the school grounds.
"Hurry up to the school grounds!”
Because the pool was overflowing with water due to the earthquake, the 5th graders in the gymnasium and the 4th and 6th graders on the 2nd floor were evacuated to the school grounds through the infirmary.
Collapsed classroom wall
The force of the tsunami knocked down the wall of the second grade classroom from south to north.
The walls of the 3rd grade classrooms were washed away, and the walls of the 1st grade classrooms were left distorted.
14:49 Major tsunami warning issued
14:50 Disaster prevention administrative radio broadcasting
A major tsunami warning was issued by the disaster prevention administrative radio as follows.
“Right now, a major tsunami warning has been issued. Residents of the coastal districts of Tanashio, Ukedo, Nakahama, and Ryotake should immediately evacuate to the designated evacuation shelters.”
Gymnasium emergency exit on the entrance side
This emergency exit was often used by children to enter the gymnasium.
After the shaking subsided, the 5th graders in the gymnasium evacuated through this emergency exit, which led from the infirmary to the balcony.
Composite board torn off the wall
The wall was washed away by the tsunami, and this composite board that collectively managed the clocks and fire alarms in each room was exposed and stopped functioning while it was tilted.
As a result, all the remaining clocks on the premises have stopped at 15:37.
14:54 Teachers and students headed to Mt. Ohira
The 82 children in the 2nd grade and above who were in the school moved to the school grounds and lined up according to grade.
After confirming that all students had evacuated to the school grounds, they began evacuating to Mt. Ohira under the supervision of the school affairs chief.
The 6th graders took the lead, and everyone ran without any luggage. They ran out without even having time to put on their jackets, so they began to evacuate while enduring the freezing wind.
“Hurry up! Go to a higher place!”
"To Mt. Ohira!”
Safe in the principal's office
Even the sturdy and heavy safe was swept away by the force of the tsunami and collapsed.
On February 29, 2016, we opened a safe that had been locked for many years and retrieved the documents inside.
Due to the effects of sea breeze and rainwater, it has now turned completely black with rust.
14:54 Earthquake off the coast of Fukushima prefecture
15:14 Major tsunami warning (height correction)
The tsunami height, which had been announced as 3m, was raised to 6m.
If there is an earthquake, there will be a tsunami," said by an elderly neighbor. The teacher and students ran away and approached the HamaKaido.
The HamaKaido was filled with people trying to escape from the tsunami, and there were many cars, but the teacher managed to stop the car and let us cross.
"Teacher, where is my child?”
"First we have to escape!”
Some parents came to pick up their children, but the teacher continued to evacuate the children.
15:15 Arrived at the foot of Mt. Ohira
The teacher and students ran hard and reached the foot of Mt. Ohira.
A student from the sports club led them to the entrance.
"Sensei! Over here.”
"You can enter the mountain from this road! I've been practicing here before.“
3:25 p.m. Vice-Principal Heads to Mt. Ohira
While the teachers and students were evacuating to Mt. Ohira, the vice-principal remained at the school and told the parents who came to pick them up as follows, urging them to evacuate immediately.
・All children must evacuate to Mt. Ohira.
・Meeting with children must be on Mt. Ohira.
Around 3:15 p.m., parents stopped coming to the school, and the vice-principal confirmed that no one was in the school building, and they finally started evacuating from the school to Mt. Ohira by car.
15:30 Major tsunami warning (height correction)
15:33 First wave of tsunami reaches coastal area
15:34 Disaster prevention administrative radio broadcasting
"A tsunami is approaching right now. Please evacuate to high ground on the mountain side immediately. Also, please dispatch the fire department. “
Tsunami hits Ukedo Elementary School
The tsunami swept a large number of objects, including cars, and they slammed into the pillar at the catering room's entrance.
While climbing the mountain, strange sounds were heard from the sea. Teachers talked to the children and tried to distract them from their anxiety.
Surge of the Great Tsunami
15:51 Disaster prevention administrative radio broadcasting
"Higashi Junior High School has been hit by the tsunami. Please continue to remain cautious and seek higher ground. Also, the fire department should contact the town hall about the damage.”
16:00 Teachers and students arrive at Mt. Ohira
With the sound of the trees rustling, everyone finally made it to the top. None of the children witnessed the tsunami since there wasn't a well-maintained high ground nearby; it was just a mountain.
The teachers did a roll call to make sure everyone was there.After that, the two teachers went back down the way they came to see what happened to Ukedo.
The teachers began climbing, and the city that had been there only a few minutes before had entirely transformed, and the surrounding area had all turned into water, and a sense of hopelessness washed over us.
"We can't go back..."
16:05 The evacuation destination has been changed to the city hall.
The teachers decided that they could not stay at the summit of Mt. Ohira, so they decided to go further west from the mountain onto Route 6 and head for the city hall.We had a local guide lead us down a narrow road.
"There were fallen trees along the way, and I was horrified to think, 'What if they fell while we were walking? (Notes of a teacher who was evacuated with a child)
16:30 Arrive at Kogusa district of Futaba town
"When I was walking on the animal road, I remember being surprised when I saw a small sign indicating the town boundary called [Futaba] on the way." (Story of an evacuated child)
When the teachers and children went down the mountain and took a break in the parking lot along National Route 6, there were many aftershocks, and cracks appeared in front of the students and teachers.
The cracks in the ground on the roads were severe, and there were places that were closed to traffic, and the area was heavily congested.
"Get on the truck! Let’s get out of here!”
16:40 Miraculous rescue
As I stood there wondering what to do, a large truck suddenly stopped in front of me.A courier company from Iwaki City passed by, and they put everyone on the back of a truck and took them to the city hall.
"I evacuated with only the clothes I was wearing, so it was very cold in the uncovered luggage carrier. However, I was able to reach the office, for which I am I am very grateful. (A story by an evacuated child)
17:00 Arrived at Namie City Hall
After confirming that all the children who had evacuated were safe, the teacher went to the city hall, and some children and their parents finally reunited.
A gymnasium called "Sunshine Namie" next to the town hall was designated as the evacuation site for residents of the Ukedo district, so everyone moved to the gymnasium.
When the truck arrived at the city hall, everyone evacuated to the gymnasium.In this way, all of them at Ukedo Elementary School were able to evacuate.
You won't know when an earthquake or danger will come to you.
“Where is Mt. Ohira to you?”
Due to the effects of the nuclear accident, everyone had to evacuate to various parts of the country, so it was not confirmed until April of the same year that everyone was safe, including the first-year students who had already left school when the disaster struck.
Ukedo district immediately after the tsunami
The tsunami that hit this area following the earthquake caused the loss of many lives and properties.
The water from the tsunami reached the second floor of the school building where you are.
The tsunami washed away or damaged 604 houses in the coastal area of the town: 402 in the Ukedo area; 58 in the Nakahama area; 32 in the Ryotake area; 101 in the Tanashio area; and 11 in the Kita-Ikusebashi area.
・Around 15:54 on March 11, 2011, around Kodo Elementary School after the tsunami
・Ukedo Elementary School is located in the center of town (in the direction of Ryotake) from the foot of Mt. Ohira.
Casualties of the tsunami
Teachers and staff of Ukedo Elementary School and residents who accompanied the evacuation and crossed Mt. Ohira were able to escape the threat of the tsunami.
People who remained at home in the town's coastal area, including the Ukedo district, and their families who went to pick them up, police and firefighters who guided residents to evacuate, and drainage pump station managers who tried to reduce damage to the district all died in the tsunami.
The clock that was installed on the school grounds
Due to the tsunami, the dial of the watch was bent. At the time of the disaster, it was attached to the school building, but over the course of 10 years it gradually sagged and fell, so only the board is what's left.
Was the tsunami hazard map utilized?
Following workshops with local residents, they prepared and distributed tsunami hazard maps and conducted disaster drills, including tsunami evacuation.
While it raised awareness of the tsunami, it also changed the misconception that there was no greater damage than the hazard map.
During the workshop, some comments were "There are many people who have never experienced a tsunami and have never experienced the horror of it, so they may not evacuate.”
“Will I get caught in the tsunami if I go home?”
“How should we deal with bedridden, elderly people living alone and physically handicapped people?”
The Great East Japan Earthquake suddenly occurred while we were working on these awareness system for tsunami evacuation based on these opinions.
that day, that time
that day, that time
Since a major tsunami warning had been issued, we were instructed to first publicize this to residents living in coastal areas. I confirmed the tsunami and was on my way back to the town hall while I was announcing the evacuation in my car.
What caught my attention at that time was that they called out quite a few calls to evacuate.
There was a person standing on the side of the road who said, “The tsunami won't come anyway." It was difficult to persuade them, but now I wonder if I should have been more forceful in my instructions to evacuate.
While heading to the site, I guided people by telling them that there is a road or a sidewalk over here.
There was a meeting to search for the tsunami-stricken area after dawn. First, the construction company cleared the road, and then the fire department and police began searching for the missing people. We were promoting such a division of roles.
Surviving Life after Evacuation and Disaster-Related Death.
-Emergency temporary housing
Many houses were forced to be demolished due to the earthquake.
Toward rebuilding houses
On the other hand, the impact of the nuclear accident casts a large shadow on the rebuilding of housing in the town, such as finding employment, going to school, family situation, settlement in the evacuation destination, and anxiety about the situation at the nuclear power plant.
Voices of Tsunami Victims: From an Intention Survey on Group Relocation for Disaster Prevention
I’m not living in a different place because I want to, but I have no other choice but to live here. I think everyone has the desire to go back if they can.
At least at the grave
The tsunami destroyed not only the lives of the people, but also the cemeteries where our ancestors rest. “I may not be able to go back, but at least I want my grave to be in my hometown”
The residents have already moved out of the town, but they want to place their graves in Ukedo, making it as a proof of their upbringing.
-Namie Town Great East Japan Earthquake Memorial Monument
-Overlooking the sea from Ohirayama Cemetery
Missing person search delays
From employee records
On the night of the 11th, I was instructed to guide the search for the tsunami-affected area tomorrow (12th).
The hardest thing for me that I encountered was when the relatives of the tsunami victims said, "Anyway, let me go search. I'm begging you, let me go. " It was not the first or second time they cried at the counter.
-Transferring bus in the station