News of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan is hitting especially hard locally in Plymouth, where residents are praying for the inhabitants of the town of Shichigahama, Japan, which has been Plymouth’s sister city since 1990.
Shichigahama is located about 15 miles northeast of Sendai city, the closest major city to the epicenter of the magnitude 8.9 quake.
“It’s on a peninsula with a few other towns that we visit, actually. It’s only like from here to Braintree from Sendai, which you keep hearing on the news,” said Plymouth school committee member Margie Burgess.
Burgess, who has visited Shichigahama, said the town’s name literally means “seven beaches”.
“The problem is that it’s a penninsula, so if the tsunami hits everything goes right over and off the other side of the water, I’m sure,” said Burgess.
More than 300 students from Plymouth and more than 600 from Shichigahama have visited each other’s countries over the past 20 years.
“One of our students that was formerly here moved with her family to a house right on the waterfront of Shichigahama, and we’re so concerned for her and all of our friends,” said Burgess.
Burgess said that she fears the worst: that all of the Shichigahama students may have perished:
“I feel that,” said Burgess. “I feel that so strongly.”
Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.