Tsunami-Hit District in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture Struggles to Get Supplies; Remains Mostly Isolated

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The tsunami-hit house of Kunio Kawabata, a fisherman in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Wednesday. Debris from his neighbor’s house and garbage from the beach were also swept in front.

KANAZAWA — Several communities in the coastal city of Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the northern tip of the Noto Peninsula, remain isolated due to severed prefectural roads following Monday’s earthquake. I headed to the Jike district, one area where the municipality is still struggling to reach residents.

I got on a 4WD and made my way to the district from the Suzu city office after getting some help from the residents. As I drove along a narrow shortcut, I passed by tilted utility poles along the roadside and roads with extremely uneven asphalt. It made me think how it would have been impossible to get here if a vehicle’s height was low.

Eventually, the view cleared, and I arrived at the Jike district, a small fishing village of about 150 households. The tsunami damage was immediately visible, with most of the houses along the seafront crushed at the first floor level and cars pinned under buildings.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The tsunami-hit Jike district in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Wednesday.

Residents were scarce. I spoke to Kunio Kawabata, 73, a fisherman who was cleaning up his house on the coast. His neighbor’s car had crashed into his house’s entrance, and the first floor showed traces of seawater that had flowed as high as a person’s waist. A jumble of muddy wood and furniture was heaped in piles along with leftover seawater in the house.

Kawabata said he rushed to a shelter on higher ground right after the quake, following the Meteorological Agency’s major tsunami warning. Looking out over the ocean from the shelter, he saw the tide ebb all at once, followed by a wave that seemed to cover the seawall. He also saw “a fishing boat carried by the tsunami.”

“The district was severely damaged by the tsunami. I am just thankful to be alive,” he said.

Electricity and gas were not available at an elevated meeting place that served as the shelter and there was no water or food, according to a 38-year-old man. Evacuees have returned to their damaged houses, bringing food and usable daily necessities back to the shelter.

Amid an extremely poor communication situation, the shelter has not been able to adequately make requests for assistance, he added. “We only have food for another day or two if we do not receive any relief.”

According to the Suzu city government, it was not until Tuesday night that the municipality could make contact with the residents of the Jike district. City officials left to go to the district on Wednesday to deliver relief supplies such as food and water.