During the 2011 tsunami, immeasurable damage was reported. More than 15,883 people lost their lives, with an additional 2,671 missing. Additionally, almost 130,000 buildings completely collapsed, 254,204 buildings partially collapsed, and another 691,766 buildings- including homes, businesses, and community centers- were damaged. To put this in perspective, the total- 1,076,000 buildings- is more than the total number of buildings in the entirety of New York City... including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
|New York City- its nearly 1,000,000 buildings would be gone or damaged in the same scale of disaster.
On Thursday, June 13th, yet another unassuming, but strangely sobering object washed ashore near Tenmile Creek Coos Bay, Oregon. The object, stark in its simpleness and otherwise unassuming, is covered with peeling paint, evidence of being worn by somebody prior to the tsunamis. It is a white hardhat, intact, its place of origin confirmed by the Japanese writing on the brim.
|Peeling paint shows evidence of use. [Photo: Jeremiah Psiropoulos]
The hard hat is interesting in that, like the slipper that just washed ashore in Seaside, it represents a personal item that is a relic of life prior to the natural disaster. It will likely never be known whether this item was being worn at time of the disaster, or was a personal or work effect of a survivor or victim. Nevertheless, this durable piece of clothing reminds us of the purely human impacts of the disaster, and can be seen as a hopeful symbol of rebuilding communities, homes, and lives.
|Japanese writing confirms its country of origin [Photo: Jeremiah Psiropoulos]