Thursday, May 19, 2011

flood gateIn the debris of the northeast, one small village named fudai stands as tall as ever after the tsunami. No homes were swept away. In fact, they barely got wet. Fudai survived thanks to a huge wall once deemed a mayor's expensive folly and now justified as the community's salvation.

The 3,000 residents living between mountains behind a cove owe their lives to a late leader who saw the devastation of an earlier tsunami and made it the priority of his four-decade tenure to defend his people from the next one.The 15.5m floodgate between mountainsides took a dozen years to build and meant spending more than 2.4 billion in today's yen but without it, Fudai would have disappeared.

The gate project was criticized as wasteful in the 1970s. But the gate and an equally high seawall behind the community's adjacent fishing port protected Fudai from the waves that obliterated so many other towns. Two months after the disaster, more than 25,000 are missing or dead in the Tohoku region. However you look at it, the effectiveness of the floodgate and seawall was truly impressive.