Decontamination Process – Cutting Down of Himalayan Cedars
The decontamination was done while the church was under repair. The workers washed the roof and outer walls with water. Contaminated soil was buried temporarily in the parking lot. The work was initiated by Minamisoma City and ended in early October. I think it good that the work ended at an early stage. If topsoil is not removed, radiation readings would be high, which we do not feel agreeable, even though we do not stay there, night and day, all year round. Volunteers and pilgrims could not come.
As cesium was detected in the treetops and trunks of the Himalayan cedars in the yard, we had to cut them down. They were about 30 to 40 years old. Sayuri Kindergarten is on the premises. To ensure the children’s safety, we have to remove dangerous substances right away.
On Saturday, March 26, 2011, we received relief for the first time. It was right after the telephone line was re-opened. The parishioners of Kita-Sendai Church brought us plenty of food such as rice, water, and canned food. We got confused about this. We were still under orders to stay indoors and had never expected outside help at all. At that time, there were only two remaining parishioners at Haramachi Church. We appreciated their support very much, since groceries were not carried into the city.
After that, volunteers from CTVC and other churches visited Haramachi Church again and again. This was also one of our wishes which came true.
On October 9, a memorial Mass was celebrated jointly with parishioners of Matsukicho Church in Fukushima City. More than 90 gathered together in the small chapel. And Christmas came. More people came and spent some days at Haramachi Church. At the end of the year, CTVC staff members and several others came to celebrate the New Year with us. There were many who came from different prefectures for the New Year’s Mass. On March 11, 2012, Bishop Koda and 82 people visited us and Memorial Mass was celebrated to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake and Tsunami. A year has passed, but there are many miles still to go towards reconstruction.
On May 6, Fr. Kariura of Nagoya Diocese replaced Fr. Umezu who left Haramachi for his new appointment. It was on Fr. Kariura’s arrival that a parishioner passed away and he hurried in a storm to his house to pray.