All That Was Lost
Maybe it’s because I believe in the notion of synchronicity or that my small contribution can add to the greater good of the world, but when I was contacted today by someone who told me of their team creating a film on the unimaginable tragedy that befell Japan, one year ago today, I felt the need to remind of what we too often forget — the fragility of what can be lost in seconds.
These images, part of a solemn and moving photo essay by the distinguished photo journalist, James Nachtwey, and the accompanying story by Krista Mahr, a correspondent for Time, can be seen and read here in its entirety.
The three disasters that blindsided Japan on March 11, 2011 -— a 9.0 earthquake, a massive tsunami and a triple nuclear meltdown -— created an unprecedented crisis for which there was no rulebook. After the water receded that Friday afternoon, leaving as many as 20,000 dead and tens of thousands of homes and businesses in ruins, a terrible stillness settled over Japan’s northeast coast. A dusting of snow fell onto empty highways, void of aid vehicles carrying food, fuel, water and blankets. Tsunami warnings were still in effect, keeping search-and-rescue teams away from obliterated seaside neighborhoods. As workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant scrambled to get the damaged reactors under control, loudspeakers echoed onto empty streets, instructing people to stay indoors to avoid radiation exposure.
the mind is compelled
below the surface,
where the human tragedy
is equally unimaginable.
Inside all those houses and cars
are people —
entire populations obliterated,
waiting to be found
and returned to their loved ones,
a seemingly impossible task,
but one which is
methodically and patiently
because rituals of
respect and love and parting
are so vital to
Image: Feb. 23, 2012. Rikuzentakata, Japan. Shattered stumps of trees at the edge of the sea.
Image: Feb. 25, 2012. Ishinomaki, Japan. Families pray for the dead. This cemetery was buried under debris from the tsunami, preventing burials from taking place until now.
Quote: Photographer, James Nachtwey’s Impressions