09/09/2011, 00.00
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Sendai, the slow rebirth of tsunami-affected areas

by David Uribe
Six months after the tragedy, most of the area has been freed from rubble. The work of the Church, volunteers, religious and lay people, to rebuild the social fabric swept away together with the houses.
Sendai (AsiaNews) - Catholics are committed in the reconstruction of towns and villages affected by the March 11 tsunami. Six months after the tragedy that cost over 15 thousand dead and 4 thousand missing, once unrecognizable areas are again usable. However, according to Mgr. Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai, "it is impossible to remove the wounds in the hearts of the survivors."

These days the diocese of Sendai has released a document signed by the bishop, which shows the status of work six months after the tragedy and the proposed new plan of action of the Church for the coming months.

According to the report, the campaign for the removal of debris in areas most affected by the earthquake is well under way. Most areas have been cleared of debris and it is now possible to go ahead with reconstruction. However, a plan of reconstruction on a national scale is lacking, the majority of victims are still homeless and living in public buildings, monasteries, churches and private homes. The first pre-fabricated houses will be delivered in the next few weeks. In addition to material damage, the drama of family and social disintegration weighs heavily on people. In the same area, some villages and settlements remained intact and life has returned to normal life, while others no longer exist. In these areas, hundreds of people have lost children, parents, relatives and live with the help of friends and social workers.

To date, the free help of families, Catholic and otherwise, who have shared their home with entire displaced families for months on end has been critical. In the shelters set up by the Church in Sendai Morioka, Miyagi and Fukushima hundreds of volunteers from all over Japan have been working every day to offer assistance to the population. Often they have brought food and medicine to towns and villages miles away from the base camp.

On September 15 the government will start the second phase of the reconstruction plan, which provides for the transfer of IDPs from the shelters to prefabricated buildings, divided according to families, and to restore the towns and villages completely flattened by the tsunami . For its part, the Japanese Catholic Church will support the creation of new parishes and new Christian communities, continuing the work of charity and witness of faith in society.

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See also
Two years on, Caritas still involved in post-tsunami reconstruction in Sendai
One year on from the "great earthquake" that shook Japan
Sendai, Christmas among the tsunami survivors
The diocese of Sendai takes on Japan’s emergency: "New Creation"
Japanese Church launches aid centre for tsunami victims