Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mom and baby save families from destruction

I've read two inspiring stories recently about people who saved their family members during natural disasters:

Mom sacrifices her legs to save her children: When the tornado struck, Kentucky woman Stephanie Decker's husband was at work (he teaches high school) but advised her to take shelter in the basement. She rushed down into their walk-in basement with her son (8) and daughter (5). When the house began to fall around them, she tried to take shelter under a comforter and positioned herself on top of the children. She was crushed by the house falling around them, lost both of her legs, and suffered a punctured lung. But she saved her children, who were unscathed. After the tornado died down, her 8-year-old son Dominic rushed into action. He crawled out from under her and ran for help. Tragically, both of her legs had to be amputated at the knees, but I'm sure she'd do it all over again to save her children, as would most mothers.


Baby saves father from dying in tsunami: Kenji Sato works in a nursing home in one of the hardest-hit towns, Minamisanriku, where residents (and presumably staff) were nearly all swept away in the tsunami. He took the day off work on March 11 to see his third son, Haruse, be born. Soon after the earthquake and tsunami hit (and Haruse was born), Kenji returned to Minamisanriku to look for the home's elderly residents in evacuation centers (and later identified their bodies).

Kenji's wife, Kazuko, had also taken the day off from her job at a local hospital. Haruse was born one month prematurely (at a hospital in another town) and need to go into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Because of the influx at the hospital after the disaster, Kazuko had to leave Haruse behind in the NICU. The family was not reunited until early April. Haruse, whose name means "Bright Spring," was diagnosed with Down Syndrome after his birth.

It's unfathomable to consider what it must have been like for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami...and then to add on top of that the extreme worry, stress, and anxiety from having a baby in the NICU.

The town of Minamisanriku was devasted, losing 1,300 of its 17,000 residents. Survivors live in barrack-style temporary housing settlements around what was once a lively fishing town...and they are rebuilding. The Satos' family survived intact because their house is built on a hill.

Now, almost a year after the disaster, the family is preparing to celebrate Haruse's birthday...as his grandmother Kazuko says, he "was born to save us." This family has much to celebrate.

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