Reporter's notebook: Japan's devastation left correspondent awestruck
CNN correspondent Brian Todd (from left), producer Dugald McConnell and photojournalist Doug Schantz stand amid the rubble in Unosumai, Japan, during their embed with a search-and-rescue team.
March 24th, 2011
10:01 PM ET

Reporter's notebook: Japan's devastation left correspondent awestruck

CNN Situation Room correspondent Brian Todd, producer Dugald McConnell and photojournalist Doug Schantz spent a week embedded with a USAID search-and-rescue team from Fairfax County, Virginia. The team traveled in some of the most devastated areas in Japan searching for bodies and survivors. Unfortunately, the team found no survivors in the rubble. Here's Brian's reporter's notebook. (The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer airs weekdays 5-7 p.m. ET and Saturday 6 p.m. ET):

I think what stands out most in my memory is the images of standing in the middle of the rubble. The pictures we saw were amazing. To stand in the middle of it and look around at the complete devastation and realize the force of the water, and what it must have been like to stand there and watch everything just get swept away, that was just an amazing sensation.

It was also amazing to look at the people coming back and picking through their houses, that just weren't even there anymore, looking for remnants of their lives. One of the rescuers told me that can be a way of preventing themselves from falling into depression: to find a remnant of their past lives in order to start anew.

The biggest challenges were sometimes just walking 10 or 15 feet over the rubble. I'm following one of the rescuers, to try to bring that home to viewers. It can be tricky going sometimes - stepping over something, squeezing through openings or crossing a pile of rubble.

Another challenge was transmitting our material, where there is no power or internet or cell service. We used batteries and generators and a machine called a b-gan, which let us transmit by connecting our laptop to the internet using a small satellite antenna. It has to be outside and costs about $16 a minute. The other challenge was consuming the MREs, meals ready to eat, in plastic pouches. You're eating what the soldiers eat in wartime. We were eating this every day for about eight days.

But those challenges were nothing compared to the difficulties the people we saw faced in the disaster and will face in rebuilding.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

Post by:
Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan • TV-The Situation Room • World
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Who's Todd?

    March 26, 2011 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. ed Bailey

    The word disaster is appropriate! The size is the only difference in the literary picture. Pick a politically and $orally correct term and get way mo better smarter as professionals that you pretend to be!!!!!!

    March 26, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ted

    Right Ed, an amazing disaster.

    March 26, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. B

    This reporter should apologize for his poor choice of words and go back to school to get some training. This is not CNN standard.

    March 26, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. john

    Meals ready to eat or mre's are quite good being in the military!

    March 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jon

    If u think this is the worst to come just wait it will progressively get worse, more and more quakes and tsunamis to come its the beginning of the show, persay.

    March 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. catherine montgomery

    Dear people we have gone too far we did not heed the warnings on globol warming people have lost sight of respect and compassion it is too late now this is only the beginning of the end of the greed for money money and power

    March 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. catherine montgomery

    People of the world wake up and smell the coffee the end is coming soon we allhave ignored the signs been too busy more interested in money and power An alchemist cathy

    March 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
1 2