Japan school still serving as shelter six months after disaster

Children with backpacks full of books and pencils still walk across the playground each morning at Watanoha Elementary School.

But 5 1/2 months after their homes were destroyed by a horrific tsunami, the half-dozen kids are living in the school with their families rather than studying or playing there.

Principal Yoshiki Takahashi, who remains in charge of the facility, said the students are bused to two other schools in the battered fishing town while officials decide what to do with the elementary school turned shelter.

In the weeks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the school was struggling to feed about 1,200 residents who were staying there when top U.S. military officials and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos visited. As of last week, there were still 99 men, women and children living in classrooms and the school gymnasium while they waited for temporary housing.

Read the rest of the story: Japan school still serving as shelter six months after disaster.

Life in Japan’s Emergency Shelters

OTSUCHI, Japan—Across Japan’s northeast coast, as residents resign themselves to hunkering down for months in emergency shelters and waiting longer still for rubble to be cleared from their tsunami-swept towns, many are settling into new and surreal rhythms.

In refugee centers in this and other towns, survivors are structuring new lives around the few activities available to them—reading donated comic books, organizing self-help projects at evacuation shelters, visiting morgues and cleaning out family homes they may never again inhabit.

Makoto Umetsu, a 31-year-old steelworker in Otsuchi, reads newspapers and watches baseball games at the shelter where he sleeps on a foam mat wedged into a doorway. He isn’t sure when he will find another place to live or hear from his employer, whose factory was badly damaged by the waves.

Read the rest of the story: In Japan’s Shelters, Lives Are Left Off-Kilter.