I am on the bus heading back to the hotel in Sendai at the end of day two volunteering for Peace Boat in Ishinomaki. Thinking we did a good job. My team shoveled a lot of inky black sludge today, some of the nastiest shit I have ever seen, a malodorous blend of what looked like motor oil and smelled like fertilizer (probably run off from nearby factories that had been destroyed), with regular old dirt and the random item mixed in- squares of kitchen floor tile, a ceramic cup, a door handle. This toxic stew is clogging street gutters all over town. It took a dozen of us 5 or 6 hours to dig out a 100-yard or so section running in front of a single two story house (standing) and detached garage (gutted). There was a sidelined Harley and busted piano at one end, field of debris at the other.
When the the last bag had been wheelbarrowed out to the collection heap, when the guys had put the last concrete cover plate down over what had become a slowly moving river of filth, it felt like a triumph. It was watery and it was flowing. Maybe a miniscule achievement in the grand scheme of things, but it was something.