Producer's Notebook: On the road to Sendai
What once were people’s homes is now just a pile of rubble. We found clothes, dolls, wedding albums and countless cars as far as we could see. (Photo Credit: Ismael Estrada/CNN)
March 14th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Producer's Notebook: On the road to Sendai

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer
@IshEstradaCNN on Twitter

Editor’s note: AC360° Producer Ismael Estrada is traveling in Japan with Anderson Cooper and CNN photojournalist Neil Hallsworth. Tune in to AC360° beginning at 10pm ET to get the latest from Japan.

(CNN) - On our way up to Sendai, Japan, we passed dozens upon dozens of vehicles lining village streets. People were lining up for blocks waiting for fuel from gas stations that were selling what little they had remaining. Hundreds of residents were lining up waiting for grocery stores to open - stores that were sold out of water and many necessary food items.

Once we made our way into the seaside city of Sendai the wreckage left in the wake of the tsunami was overwhelming. Vehicles were tossed all over mud-filled streets. Some cars were inside buildings that only a few days ago were open for business.

As we drove closer to residential areas we couldn’t believe the destruction in front of us. Anderson, photojournalist Neil Hallsworth and I made our way into the wreckage - what once were people’s homes is now just a pile of rubble. We found clothes, dolls, wedding albums and countless cars as far as we could see. Homes were literally ripped apart and tossed aside.

As we were in the middle of all the rubble it was hard to imagine that, at one time, this was a place people here called home.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • AC361° • Ismael Estrada
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. DavidLP

    I'm curious, the Japanese culture is extraordinarily respectful and polite to begin with. What are you noticing is happening between people now?

    March 15, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  2. June Hashim

    From afar, I don't think I will ever be able to grasp the magnitude of this devastation. It continues to be surreal, but my grieve is mounting each time I see a news update, the woman who continued to call out for her loved ones, the man walking about with a photo in his hand, the rubble that was once a home. With the death toll rising and nuclear threats I feel hopeless and empty and that is not how I want to feel.

    March 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  3. Jennifer

    GET ANDERSON OUT!!! I am watching this. Get him out of there. We want him home and safe. This is not reporting any more.

    March 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  4. Blanca of Toronto

    Anticipating your report tonight.

    March 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  5. Stefanie - Germany(soon)

    so sad what happened :((((((( there is NO words for this!
    such proud people, will light a candle tonight again for them.....

    March 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  6. Mollie Jarvis

    My thoughts are with these people as they muddle through the next few weeks. I cannot imagine what they are thinking about as they sit in the shelters and wait. Where do they go from here without a house, without anything to start from? How do you start over again? How do you start your first step and where? I just can't stop thinking about them! I will pray for you!

    Please be careful Anderson and Crew we need you!

    March 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  7. Travis, Mitche Arte

    What frightens me even move in the meltdown and the down playing of this !

    I had a huge amount of friends through the SGI Buddhism that originated in Japan.

    I pray for those who have lost everything, hope they find who ever may still be alive. Be aware when the wind changes direction. and what goes underground comes up in many ways

    Creating an entire town and province from man made on an everchanging fragile existance as Japan ! Volatile as japan in Natural disasters. Too late I understand ! But when will humanity learn from this. I hope there is an evacuation procedure already in place in case full meltdown happens in the 6 nuclear plants !

    Iodine slows the process, not stops it !

    March 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  8. Sean

    With all the concern over the Fukushima nuclear plant and radiation, I am wondering if either local medical facilities or the Red Cross is making radiation dosimeters available. There are relatively cheap dosimeters available, as any X-Ray technician at a medical facility are required to wear them. Having these at shelters may allay any fears for the Japanese people, and answer some questions the world is having right now on the extent of this potential danger. If radiation were getting out, nearby X-Ray techs wearing these (at any Fukushima medical facility) may be the first to know in the public sector.

    March 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  9. otto borden

    I feel for you AC cause if you have been anywhere near that reactor you are contaminated can't you see the Japanese wearing MOP equipment as they search for bodies and you guys are out there with no protection at all well you start to get systems later.but its probably already in all the media skin and organs

    March 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  10. otto borden

    People keep saying that oh its not as bad as it looks but how is it that the sailors that return to the ABE Lincoln were contaminated with radiation and had to go through a decontamination that alone tells you all those people are walking around especially media contaminated and don't know it.The Navy isn't going to say anything

    March 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  11. Susan Stern

    What,if any,protection do CNN crews have on the ground in Japan? Were they assigned to Japan or was it voluntary considering the immense danger? Does CNN have a plan to get them out and when would a decision like that be made considering no one knows when the nuclear plants will melt down? It is almost unthinkable that any foreign media are risking radiation. There has never been a situtation so dangerous.

    Thank you.

    March 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  12. vaidy bala

    I watch CNN. Future lessons to consider are build nuke power plants in geologically stable places, lease from other countries like Canada if one is not available,where population density is near zero. Do not build nuke plants where triple risk factors like Volcanic eruption, sea/earthquake and Tzunami co-exist. Also, there is a high probability of developing. While Nuke power holds some clear advantages compared to coal and fatalities,Co2 emission increased safety and monitoring are needed to assure public safety in a crisis like in Japon.

    March 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  13. kevin

    This might help the people in Japan if you raise this question how come carnival cruise line and Royal cruise aren't ask to help , this ships can hold up to aleast 5,000 each ship and they hold food for more then month and move these people other parts of Japan , this one way to help I think the people who want go vactions would understand if these ship were use for a higher perpose

    March 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  14. Lora Nida

    What is happenning in Japan is so sad, I wish I could do more to help he peope but sadly I do not have the finances so in honor of the missing at 2:46 pm on Friday I will observe 2 minutes of silence for all of them. I think the US should do the same.

    March 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm |