Tsunami survivor recounts nursing home ‘nightmare’

I know we’re all getting overwhelmed with Tsunami news, but this story highlights some important issues for the elderly during disasters.

SENDAI – Kaori Ohashi watched with horror as the debris-heavy waves of mud swallowed houses and bulldozed fields, and then rushed towards the nursing home where she works.

She saw cars thrown from the roads by the raging water — their drivers still inside. Other victims desperately clung to trees before the waves generated by the biggest earthquake in Japan’s history dragged them under.

“I thought my life was over,” Ohashi told AFP, as she recounted the tale of two harrowing nights trapped inside the home with 15 staff members — and 200 elderly residents with severe dementia — after Friday’s twin disasters.

Ohashi, a 39-year-old mother of two, is now staying in an emergency shelter at a local school gymnasium in Sendai, the capital of hard-hit Miyagi prefecture, with about 400 other evacuees.

Each time one of the multiple daily aftershocks rattles the building, she jumps to wrap her body around her two-year-old daughter.

On Friday, as the first floor of the facility quickly filled with murky water, she and her colleagues raced to bring the elderly to the second and third floors.

“During all that time, we were feeling large aftershocks. Snow started to fall and it became dark. We lost power. I thought ‘This is a nightmare’,” Ohashi said.

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