Survivor Returns to Japan After Quake, Tsunami

After six months, a teacher returns to see her class graduate -- and a great deal more.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area's Janelle Wang reports. (Published Thursday, Sep 1, 2011)

    A San Francisco woman, who survived Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, returns to the country nearly six months later.

    She is visiting the school, where she taught English. It’s the Miyagi Prefecture, one of the most devastated areas in Japan.

    Her story was heard around the world. "Today" show’s Anne Curry reunited the San Francisco woman with her family in the Bay Area. Canon Purdy was in “minamisanriku” to attend her students’ junior high school graduation, when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck, followed by the unbelievable tsunami.

    The wall of water destroyed the town and killedy many, including a teacher and student. Nearly six months later, Purdy is back in Japan, in that same town, to see that graduation, now finally happening.

    Those kids have already started high school, but returned to their now rebuilt junior high to officially graduate. We spoke to Purdy via Skype: “It’s been a relief to see them moving on, picking up their lives and kind of their hope and positive energy about their future is a relief to me."

    Purdy says there’s still an enormous amount of devastation. Neighborhoods unrecognizable. Buildings condemened. Many of the Japanese still homeless, needing help. Purdy says some towns will take 5-10 years to rebuild.

    But some areas have been rebuilt. The roads are clear and people are moving about the city again.

    "They’ve done a lot of work to clean-up, still a lot of damage, but things are organized, waiting to be taken out," she said.

    Purdy started a website to raise money for the japanese victims. It’s www.Savemiyagi.Org. So far, she has raised $3500. She has given all the money to the school district where she worked.