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Plymouth Waiting to Hear from Shichigahama Friends

Plymouth residents and officials frantically email, Facebook and call cell phones to contact friends in Japan without luck.

Plymouth residents who have friends in Shichigahama, Japan have tried every form of communication, attempting to contact their friends in Plymouth's sister-city, without any luck, as they watch news footage from the nearby port city of Sendai, where the tsunami caused tremendous damage.

School Committee member Margie Burgess has been to Japan many times as part of the Plymouth delegation and has dozens of friends in the city and surrounding towns. She said she woke last night hearing Japanese voices on the television. Since then, she's been working every line: Facebook, email, cellphones, trying to contact her many friends across the globe, trying to find out if her Shichigahama friends are OK.

Shichigahama is on a peninsula and Burgess is worried that the tsunami could have simply swept the city of 20,000 residents away.

"There was no time," she said. "They were hit by an 8.9 earthquake and 15 minutes later the tsunami struck."

Burgess said she is unsure about whether the next visit by Shichgahama's delegation will take place.

Plymouth Patch will have more local reaction as friends continue searching for friends.

Here's a list of some of the news outlets covering the quake and tsunami from the ground:

AOLNews

CNN

New York Times

MSNBC

FOXNews

Peter Thompson March 11, 2011 at 09:08 PM
I was the Assistant Language Teacher in Shichigahama in 2006. The only detailed information I can find are a few twitter posts under #shichigahama_jishin. It seems Shobutahama and Yoshidahama have been hit by the tsunami with houses near the water being washed inland. No information from the other beaches. People are staying at the assembly points (schools and aquarena). Twitter translations: "I was able to speak to my father in Shoubutahama. The houses in Takuchi, Shoubutahama have been almost all washed away. Water came almost all the way up to the temple. Lots of people are staying in Matsugahama Elementary School." "I checked and my father is safe. The houses near the Kasuya shop in Yoshidahama seem to have been completely washed away."
martianne March 13, 2011 at 12:17 AM
I was a Plymouth resident and lived in Shichigahama for three years as a teacher through the JET program and another two in nearby Sendai. I have lost touch with many of my friends there and also with folks on the Sister Town Committee in Plymouth, but I wanted to reach out to share my concern, heartbreak and prayers as well as to say that I have heard some sad news from a friend of mine in Japan about Shichigahama reports there: 'Just saw a news report and video from Shichigahama. It was hit by the tsunami very hard. The self defense forces are conducting search and rescue operations. In the video, a half a dozen people were shown being rescued from different locations. The news report also mentioned that town residents were taking refugee but no information about where or numbers....According to NHK 200 people are 'left' in the town. In addition there is a large number of people who are cut off and at the power plant thing at the southern end of town'
martianne March 13, 2011 at 12:18 AM
I have heard additional news about Shichigahama from JET and FB sources and wanted to share: 'Just saw video from Tagajo/Shiogama on the news- there are some oil fires and tons of water damage. The place looks like a wreck. To this point, I've only heard definite word from one friend living in the Tagajo/Shichigahama area who works at the Kokusaimura and lives in Tagajo. He told me he was able to cross the bridge back to Tagajo to get home at least.\\ In Shichigahama, it seems a lot of homes in Shoubutahama, Matsugahama, Hanabuchihama and Yougai have been washed away or flooded. The water apparently made it as far as the fields beside Koyo-chu, hundreds of metres inland. ... People are staying in Ekiraku-shou and Matsugahama-shou. The higher areas like the Yakuba and Kokusaimura are apparently ok'
Lisa Hosokawa March 13, 2011 at 01:52 AM
Like Martianne, I also lived and worked in Shichigahama as part of the JET Programme. I currently live in Tokyo, and I am trying every route to find out more news. I can confirm that Japanese TV is showing images of a terrible fire at an "industrial complex" (not sure of exact location). Reports this morning said that that fire has been burning for 38 hours. I am in touch with Yuko Saito, who used to work in the town office and now lives in Tokyo. Her parents are okay (they live nearby but not in Shichigahama), but she thinks that her uncle's home was probably destroyed and a name matching that of her aunt has appeared on the list of those who have died. One online discussion board indicated that the tsunami reached as far as Shiomidai Elementary School. I have only email or text messaging information for friends and former coworkers there, and this is not working. Most likely, people cannot use their cell phones. Either they have been destroyed or they have not been able to charge them. I am happy to connect with concerned Plymouth residents through Facebook to share news and discuss how we can help. Lisa (O'Brien) Hosokawa
David Hayfits March 13, 2011 at 03:24 AM
In too used to live and work in Shichigahama just after Lisa. From facebook updates from Saki Sato who spent a year in Plymouth as an exchange student, it appears that they evacuated the town as quickly as possible and families were separated and are just now connecting. I have got confirmation from a friend in a neighboring town (Taiwa) and he is very involved in the community in and around Sendai. I will try to get more detailed information from him and post further information. For those of you who visited Shichigahama the Shiomidai elementary school is really on the opposite end of town from the ocean. As you drove into town towards the Town Hall, the road split large rice fields and Shiomidai was on the other side of those fields away from the ocean. David H. CIR 1998-2001
Geoff Skellern March 13, 2011 at 05:01 AM
Hi My wife and I have been desparately searching for information about what has happened in Shichigahama. We were in contact with her parents following the tsunami but haven't heard from them again in a couple of days. It has been a great help to hear some information through your comments but communications are so difficult at the moment. We just hope they are ok. If anybody has any futher information please keep posting it. Geoff Skellern (Australia)
Casey Meserve March 13, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Hi everyone, Thank you so much for sharing your information with our readers. I should have an update on our friends in Shichigahama Monday.
Mike Moore March 13, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Hello everyone, I am in the USAF stationed in Alamogordo, NM and am trying to find as much information as possible. My wife is from Shichigahama, and we have not heard anything from her Mother, Grandmother, Brother, Aunt and Uncle. We cannot get through on any phone lines either. If anyone can provide ANY information it is greatly appreceiated. Thank you. Mike
Geoff Skellern March 14, 2011 at 07:30 AM
Hi, We just heard from my wifes mother in Shichigahama from a satelite phone NTT has set up. There was a long queue and she could only speak for a short time but she is OK and her husband is helping at a super market in Tagajo. Hopefully you all will be hearing from family members from Shichigahama soon too. I hear power is being re connected to areas around Shichigahama so power should be there again soon also. With regards to how far the tsunami reached my wifes parents home is just west of Yamazawa supermarket if anybody is familier with it. There was some flooding in the supermarket but not their house. I can't really speak for other areas though. Good luck to all your friends & family, you are in our thoughts. I will let you know any more I find out. Geoff Skellern
Douglas Thibault March 14, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Hi, I just received an E-Mail from Tatsua ( Touch) Sakamoto . He was a student in 2001 and spent a year with us. He wanted all to know that he and his wife and baby are all fine. His mother and father were not at home when the desaster hit, but their home is in shambles. Doug & Lori Thibault Weld, Maine
Mike Moore March 14, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Ok, we just got an email from my wife's mother. They are all ok and their home is still standing, only because it was higher up. The tsunami went through Tagajo and Shiogama. Our friend Saki Sato has pictures on her facebook page of Tagajo and one little one of Shichigahama; where not much is left. I hope everyone else gets ahold of everyone they are looking for, keep praying for all the families in Japan. Mike and Natsumi Moore
Casey Meserve March 14, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Thank you everyone for continuing to post updates. I know there are a lot of people with friends in Japan.
martianne March 15, 2011 at 03:16 AM
From a friend who worked in Shichigahama with me: "Here's another link I found in Japanese tonight: http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/03/20110314t13052.htm This is from a local Tohoku media source. Second photo down is Shichigahama. Short piece on the town accompanying it says that most people remain missing. 13 bodies have been found as of the 13th. 4000 people are at a shelter without much food supplies. "
martianne March 15, 2011 at 03:18 AM
a fellow foreigner with connections to Japan translated the above article as: First article about Shichigahama - Translated from Tohoku news A place crowded with swimmers every summer has been completely destroyed. Of the over 550 homes in Shichigahama’s Shoubutahama, only a small group on a hill remain. With many still missing,13 bodies had been found by the 13th. A mother and daughter returned to see what had become of their home. Only the concrete foundation remained. Unable to speak, the daughter could only cry. The mother found a photo of a neighbor, “All our things have been washed away. There’s nothing left so I’ll bring this to them,” she said wiping it clean. As inhabitants returned to look for any proof of their existence, a new tsunami warning sounded forcing them back to the shelter of high ground. By the 14th, over 4,000 people were staying in the town’s shelter sites. The town administration reported: “At the moment, we don’t have enough food. We’re also out of gasoline for power generators and kerosene for heaters. We’d need to get these as soon as possible from wherever we can”.
martianne March 15, 2011 at 03:20 AM
If you know folks' cell phones, etc. you may be able to track down if they are okay. See http://www.japansocietyboston.org/Earthquake
diana March 15, 2011 at 08:43 PM
martianne, Is there any effort yet in sending aid or offering packages from us? Or even allowing any of our friends to come here?
martianne March 16, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Diana, Lots of grassroots stuff being talked about, but I think we'll need to wait a bit longer for infrastructure to be back in place before any of that takes shape.
Daishiro Mori March 16, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Hi, I visited Wendy's home in Shichigahama with my friend last year. She is safe. please watch this NEWS source. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/12727203 Daishiro MORI, from Tokyo.
Fannie March 17, 2011 at 02:01 AM
I was the 1996-1997 ALT in Shichigahama. Marti, thanks for the update from Tomoko Wada (on wickedlocal). That is great news about Chiba-san. I have sent an e-mail to Ken/Maki Goto and am hoping for a response. Please keep the updates coming. Have lost touch with so many of our friends there - Yukari, Masami, Akiko, etc. Hoping for the best. Fannie
martianne March 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM
Fannie. Good to hear from you. I have indeed lost touch with many, although I hold them in my heart. Join https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_199504233407759&ref=ts to look for folks, read about Shichigahama, etc.
diana March 19, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Let me know. We have not heard from anyone as of yet.

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