October 17, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Japan | Anti-tsunami walls, legacy of the 2011 disaster

Japan |  Anti-tsunami walls, legacy of the 2011 disaster

(Toro) Tsunami Walls The small coastal town of Toro was supposed to be protected from the wrath of the sea, but the waves that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 still brought death and death there. Destruction.


Natsuko FUKUE
France Media Agency

Ten years after one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, the region has learned a painful lesson, the shores of which today are adorned with hundreds of kilometers of these concrete walls, except when the inhabitants reject them.

Until 2011, Tarot believed people were safe in the Iwate segment. “We have built the right city to protect against disasters,” local tourism guide Kumiko Motoda told AFP.

The tarot, already destroyed by tsunamis in 1896 and 1933, was erected with concrete walls in 1934. Locals nicknamed the “Great Wall” after those ten meters high and 2.4 kilometers along the sea.

To complete the whole, the 44 evacuation routes, illuminated by solar panels, should allow residents to get shelter from the waves within 10 minutes, Mr explained.To me Motoda.

But ten years ago, a 16-meter wave overtook these determinations, smashing a wall and sweeping houses and cars.

The official death toll in Tarot was 140 dead and 41 missing.

430 km

In the aftermath of the disaster, the Japanese government encouraged coastal areas to build or rebuild these defensive dykes, equivalent to C $ 15 billion in public funds.

In all, a 430-kilometer campus is expected to be completed soon on the coasts of the three northeastern regions affected by the disaster: Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

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These structures changed the coastline and obstructed the sea view.

Tarot inhabitants, three walls over 14.7 meters over two kilometers, had to turn their necks to form the summit and climb thirty steps to see the ‘ocean’.

But, in the opinion of experts, the existence of these forts is justified by the double protection they provide by repelling the wave energy, which minimizes damage and relieves residents from reaching the waves.

In 2011, Tomoya Shibayama, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Waseda University in Tokyo, recalled that “those few minutes often made the difference between those who could be evacuated and those trapped in tsunamis.”

The new walls have wider bases and are reinforced on the inside to better withstand the force of the waves. Their height has also been adjusted according to the latest simulations, allowing them to withstand even theoretically exceptional tsunamis.

Warning systems have also been improved and computer simulations have made it possible to optimize evacuation routes in particular.

But Mr. Shibayama says the walls are still keystone, because in Japan there is “always a risk of natural disaster”.

“It’s in my house”

In Tarot, however, disaster showed that one wall alone was not enough. “There were people who thought the tsunami would not reach them and did not evacuate,” M recalledTo me Motoda.

The first warning was for a three meter wave and due to subsequent power cuts, many residents were not notified when the forecast was revised to ten meters.

A strong earthquake two days ago also caused a small tsunami, leading to a false sense of security.

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“The goal is to make time for the walls to clear, not to stop tsunamis”, notes M.To me Motoda, no mother since 2011.

For her, these walls should also serve to prevent bodies from being carried into the sea. “I think she would have come home if the walls had not been destroyed,” she said thinking about her mother.

But these concrete buildings are sometimes unpopular and some communities refuse to cut them off from the sea.

The Mon’s fishing village (Miyagi Division) – which killed four people in the 2011 tsunami and destroyed 42 of the 55 houses – has made it a priority to go further than 40 meters above sea level.

“The only way to save our lives when a tsunami hits is to evacuate from a height. It doesn’t matter if there is a wall or not,” said Makoto Hatakeyama, an oyster farmer from Mono.

Ten years ago, like other fishermen, he went out to sea in an attempt to rescue his boat and survived by swimming to a nearby island.

“We can do nothing,” he said of the tsunamis and earthquakes that occur regularly.

On the other hand, he was not ready to give up his relationship with the sea. “This scene, this air, this atmosphere […] There are no such places in Japan.

Sea, “This is my identity. She calms me down. It’s in my house “.