SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

March 29, 2011

Tsunami-swept island cut off from power and water

(Continued)

OSHIMA, Japan —

Reiko Kikuta, 45, stood on the shore and watched as two yellow tractors tried to pull her two-story home out of the sea with thick ropes threaded through holes in the roof.

"The third tsunami carried my house away," she said. Her family sold fish to hotels and restaurants in the area. "We've moved into our warehouse for now."

Many families relied on the ocean for their income, raising seaweed, scallops and oysters. This year's crop has been ruined, along with most of the boats and equipment. The streets are littered with smashed oysters, and nets and buoys hang from trees along the shore.

"My house and my boat were insured. But you can't insure boiling pots and other equipment," said Akira Sugawara, 46, as he hand pumped water from his well.

The timing of the disaster was especially painful for him and others, as it came a week before they were to harvest this year's crop of "wakame," a seaweed widely used in Japanese salads and soups. Sugawara, whose family has lived on the island for more than 200 years, estimates he has lost 100 million yen ($1.2 million) in product and supplies.

Most fishermen have some gear left and, by mixing and matching, they may be able to assemble enough to raise a small crop jointly, Yukio Onodera said. "We're going to combine what we have and work together for a year or two. It's impossible to do it alone."

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