Documentation of Earthquake/Tsunami

I've been trying to avoid this for as long as I can, but now I find myself here asking for financial assistance.

My name is Rob Lehne, and I was living in Ishinomaki (a city in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan) at the time of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. It is the closest large city to the epicenter of the earthquake and was devastated by the massive tsunami. I was working as a teacher in the town of Onagawa at the time, which suffered massive damage from a tsunami of 18 to 22 meters high (59 to 72 feet).

I've been trying to document the rebuilding process since this horrible disaster. I took some pictures around town in the two days following the earthquake and tsunami, and have returned almost every month to the same locations to take the same picture, so you can see how the area has changed from month to month. 

My apartment building had been rendered unlivable due to the tsunami damage, and I had to move to an apartment in Sendai (65 kilometers away). However, for the first year, it was quite easy to document the town, as I was working in Onagawa and could easily leave school during my free periods to take the pictures. But for three years after that, I had to commute around 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) in another direction. I now live in Tomiya, a city next to Sendai and also have found work in the same city where I live. But the trip to Onagawa is about the same (67 kilometers), and my car and equipment are getting older.

I soon began a website ( where I could post the pictures and video that I took, but due to time restraints because of my current job, I have not been able to post pictures or video for the past few years. I still go and take them, as well as save newspaper articles about the disaster and rebuilding, which I intend to post as I find the time. Unfortunately, part of the site has stopped working, and I don't have the time now to rebuild it.

I have donated a lot of time and money to help the people affected by this disaster rebuild, with most of my focus going towards the children, as I am a teacher. I am seeking donations so that I can continue these activities, further expand my website, and keep it and the videos I post free of those annoying commercials that have infected most of Youtube. I hope to make this website as an information and educational tool for anyone wanting more information about this particular disaster, and how the rebuilding process took place and how to prepare for future massive earthquakes and tsunami. I am only asking for donations if you have a little money to spare and think this cause is worthwhile. I can not accept money to distribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes or had them damaged, as there is no longer a financial support system in place. If you wish to donate money to people affected by the recent earthquake in Hokkaido, I recommend you find a way to donate money directly. If you wish to donate money to help me purchase teaching supplies where I work (in a small city not affected by the tsunami) it would be greatly appreciated. I am primarily seeking support to pay for the website costs, the costs of traveling to and from Onagawa, and the cost to upgrade my video camera (now 12 years old and on its last legs) and to get a scanner of a decent size to help scan and upload the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of newspaper articles over the past 7 and a half years. I plan to keep doing this until at least 2021, or whenever it seems that the rebuilding process is complete. 

Any support you can offer would be immensely appreciated. If you can't support this but can share this story that would also be appreciated. Thank you very much for reading this.


  • Lori Cousins 
    • $50 
    • 11 mos


Rob Lehne 
Bainbridge Island, WA
  • #1 fundraising platform

    People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more