When 43-year-old Hideaki Akaiwa returned to his northeastern hometown of Ishinomaki, Japan it was already a disaster zone flooded in water and loose rubble. His first thoughts were to locate his mother and wife of 20 years — and fast. Unable to wait for relief workers to arrive, Akaiwa quickly grabbed his scuba gear and prepared for a swim he will most likely will never forget.
“The water felt very cold, dark and scary,” he recalled. “I had to swim about 200 yards to her, which was quite difficult with all the floating wreckage.”