“How successful are you in actually getting the displaced to (discuss?) relocate(ing) their rebuilding efforts higher?” is the question posed to us by friend of the Initiative, Ken Diener. Another question in a similar vein is, “What types of warnings would it take to convince people to move to safer ground,” locations safe from the known historic hazards of tsunamis?
The excerpted article below — originally published in CBS news on April 6th, 2011 — showcases the 600-year old stone markers that have long warned of tsunamis:
In this March 31, 2011 photo, a tsunami survivor walks past a centuries-old tablet that warns of danger of tsunamis in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan. (AP)
MIYAKO, Japan – Modern sea walls failed to protect coastal towns from Japan’s destructive tsunami last month. But in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, a single centuries-old tablet saved the day.
“High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” the stone slab reads. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”
It was advice the dozen or so households of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a disaster that flattened low-lying communities elsewhere and killed thousands along Japan’s northeastern shore.
Hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. Collectively they form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts along major fault lines have made it a repeated target of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries.
The markers don’t all indicate where it’s safe to build. Some simply stand — or stood, washed away by the tsunami — as daily reminders of the risk. “If an earthquake comes, beware of tsunamis,” reads one. In the bustle of modern life, many forgot.
More than 12,000 have been confirmed dead and officials fear the death toll could rise to 25,000 from the March 11 disaster. More than 100,000 are still sheltering in schools and other buildings, almost a month later. A few lucky individuals may move into the first completed units of temporary housing this weekend.