Remember the shocking pictures of beached boats and ships after Japan’s March tsunami attack? in one fishing town, they’re still there, untouched months after the disaster. More than a dozen ships heaved inland sit with red bellies and propellers exposed among the demolished houses of Kesennuma, a jarring daily reminder of the ocean's awesome power. Many have been propped up with metal beams so they won't topple over. Determined to recover, the town has now begun the Herculean job of returning some of the beached ships to the sea, a task that is neither easy nor cheap: To move five of the ships, the amount per ship is more than $1 million.
The tsunami swept 17 ships weighing over 20 tons and another 1,000 smaller fishing boats onto land around town, authorities estimate. Some of the bigger ships farther from the port will be cut into scrap metal, but vessels closer to the water and with modest damage are being rescued. Putting these ships back into action is crucial to restarting fish markets and restoring the community's economy and confidence. "This is a fishing town, so if the ships get moving and start catching fish again, we're hopeful that might lead to things picking up here," says an elderly resident, whose hillside house overlooking the port survived tsunami waters that reached her front steps. (Read more 7.4 Japan earthquake stories.)