Tsunami Survivor Searches for Wife and Mother

by jdroth on 28 March 2011

Hideaki Akaiwa spent three days searching for his wife and mother. Photo by Rick Westhead.The Los Angeles Times reports that while the Japanese government is trying to help survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami, resources are spread too thin. Rather than waiting for help that might never arrive, some folks are taking action themselves.

For instance, 43-year-old Hideaki Akaiwa donned scuba gear (or perhaps a wetsuit) and swam through flooded streets to rescue his wife and mother. From the article:

Akaiwa said he was at work a few miles away when the tsunami hit, and he rushed back to find his neighborhood inundated with up to 10 feet of water. Not willing to wait until the government or any international organization did, or did not, arrive to rescue his wife of two decades — whom he had met while they were surfing in a local bay — Akaiwa got hold of some scuba gear. He then hit the water, wended his way through the debris and underwater hazards and managed to reach his house, from which he dragged his wife to safety.

A few days later, Akaiwa took action again. The water was still high, and his mother was still missing. He waded into the water and went in search of her. He found her stranded on the second floor of a house. She’d been waiting for four days for help to arrive.

Most of the disaster victims have taken a passive (almost fatalistic) attitude. What can they do? But Akaiwa has chosen to play an active role in his future instead of letting life just happen to him. Now he’s searching the rubble for other surivors.

When people act, awesome things happen.

[The Los Angeles Times: For one quake survivor, self-help in the face of seeming helplessness. See also Toronto Star: Hideaki Akaiwa must “keep looking”. Photo by Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star.]

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