SENDAI -Towards a Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally-Friendly City


SENDAI -Towards a Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally-Friendly City

Sharing our tsunami research and disaster risk reduction education with the world

Head of the Minami-Gamo
Neighborhood Association,
Sendai, Japan

During the Great East Japan Earthquake,Minami-Gamo,a coastal area in Sendai, was struck by a tsunami over 4 meters high. Most houses were either swept away or flooded by tsunami, resulting in a loss of many lives. However, some residents were able to flee to the roofs of elementary schools which were designated as evacuation centers, saving their lives. “If you feel a large earthquake near the coast, escape to an elevated location in order to survive.” This is an important lesson learned from our experience.

We have carried out tsunami disaster drills at the neighborhood association every year since the earthquake. This year we held a drill where we issued a tsunami warning, and 120 local residents fled to the roof of Okada Elementary School, which is a designated evacuation center. From there they checked the number of evacuees and conducted a roll call for each area. We also practiced vital disaster skills, such as learning first-aid for injuries, doing firefighting drills using fire extinguishers, and preparing and trying emergency rations. Local residents from children to the elderly proactively participated in the drills, and female disaster preparedness leaders from the neighborhood association also played a vital part. As well as “self-help,” the idea of making sure that you keep yourself safe, another important factor in preventing disasters and reducing their impact is “mutual aid,” where people work together to respond to disasters.

▲Evacuation stairs at Okada Elementary School ▲Evacuation stairs at Okada Elementary School

Sendai City is continuing to make improvements along the coast from elevating roads to building coastal and river embankments. We created a Minami-Gamo reconstruction department in our neighborhood association, which is working to reconstruct and create the area that harmonizes with our natural environment, under the concept of “Build Back Better.”
November 5 is World Tsunami Awareness Day designated by the UN General Assembly in 2015. Many different disasters occur frequently all over the world, and we hope that we will be able to help prepare for these disasters and reduce their impact by sharing our experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the lessons we have learned, and our disaster prevention efforts with the world.

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