Can a stone house survive a tsunami?

This German survived the tsunami | "People screamed
Columns of smoke rose "

Five years ago, Johanna (38) only barely survived the tsunami in Japan - she tells her story on BILD am Sonntag.

For many, it is the fifth anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters of our time. On March 11th, Johanna Spielberg will celebrate the beginning of her second life for the fifth time.

Because the entrepreneur (38) from Düsseldorf is one of the few German victims of the tsunami that destroyed large areas of Japan five years ago and triggered the nuclear disaster in the Fukushima power plant. She miraculously survived.

Fukushima disaster

It was supposed to be a carefree vacation for Johanna Spielberg. The studied Japanologist received the trip to Japan from her parents (78, 73) as a gift for her master’s degree.

The three planned a four-week tour at cherry blossom time. You begin the journey in the north of the country, but on day five of the journey the unbelievable happens. Spielberg recalls: “We were sitting on a train north of Sendai when the earth suddenly started to shake. The whole train wobbled, luggage flew around, people screamed and panicked, columns of smoke rose on the horizon, ”she recalls.

The train stops on the route, letting the frightened passengers get off. “Taxis were organized to the nearest train station, but we took our time and were among the last to leave. At some point my mother noticed an empty river and said: 'Funny, there is no water in there.' Then my father only said: 'Because it comes from the right.' I looked around and saw a huge water front coming towards us. "

The masses of water get under the taxi in a flash, whirling the old Toyota around like a toy. “It was terrible, we were scared for our lives and we screamed. The taxi driver tried frantically to steer, but that didn't work. We drifted through the streets, crashing into other cars, people were shouting everywhere, escaping from car windows, vehicles and old barrels shot past us. I really thought that was it now. "

But the family is very lucky. Your taxi is wedged in a side street between a house wall and a power pole. "The taxi driver just shouted: 'Get out of the taxi!' We rolled down the window, climbed out through the small opening and were all three directly carried away by the strong pull of the water."

It hurls the family through street canyons for minutes. “We were all pushed in the same direction, it was cold and we were so scared. I was already through with my life, ”recalls Spielberg. The family is washed up against a fence one by one. And then suddenly there is this young man.

“He pulled my father first, then my mother, then me out of the water and took us to a house. There an elderly couple was standing in despair on a table in the kitchen, the water almost up to their stomach. We stayed here for the next twelve hours. I sat on a sink, watching how the water in the house kept rising and falling. Sometimes it was only a few feet to the ceiling. Outside it got quieter at some point and the time seemed infinitely long to us. Then finally after twelve hours the military freed us through the back door of the house. I will never forget this moment. "

Japanese friends sent the family photos showing the region before and after the disaster

The soldiers took the family to a reception center at a university church, where the family stayed for five days. They sleep on pews, there are rice crackers, rice balls and here and there a warm miso soup. “We were the only Europeans there, everyone else was locals. There were parents desperately looking for their children; old people who had lost everything; Helpers who had to tell children that they no longer have parents. It was just cruel, ”Spielberg remembers.

Here the family learns that the tsunami also hit the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, around 250 kilometers away, but initially only a few were interested. “People were so preoccupied with their own suffering. We were also outside the danger zone ourselves, ”says Spielberg looking back. “If you don't know whether your own child has survived, you don't care whether you are contaminated,” she says.

After five days, at least for the Spielbergs, redemption will come.

They came to Sendai by hitchhiking and with a kind of lift-ride across the west side of Japan. The family took the last part of the journey to Tokyo by train. "Only then did we understand the full extent of the disaster," says Spielberg.

She obtained an ID from the Foreign Office because hers was lost in the floods. "At that time, the German employees kept a distance of several meters for fear that we might be contaminated," she recalls. "That was humiliating."

The family flies back to Germany on November 18. In order to process what has been experienced, Spielberg does therapy. Today she is fine again, but she knows: You were incredibly lucky. “We later learned that the house we stayed in was the only stone house in the area - and that it was on a hill. We were just lucky in misfortune. "

She has already visited Japan again. And since then she has regarded the day of the accident as her second birthday.

Video shows the devastation

In the city of Tagajo (around 60,000 inhabitants) in northern Japan, the family was surprised by the masses of water. This video shows the force with which the masses of water raged in the city.

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