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An earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011 leveled cities and left 18,000 people dead along the east coast of Japan.

The government responded with a plan to build hundreds of sea walls in hopes of protecting coastal communities from future disasters.

Rikuzen-Takata was among the cities fortified after the tragedy. It was nearly destroyed by the tsunami, and that damage is clear when comparing Landsat 5 images from April of 2009 and April of 2011. False color images make the damage appear even more stark.

Construction of a 41-foot-high sea wall to separate the city from Hirota Bay had begun by 2014, as seen in this Landsat 8 image from April of that year. In 2019, the completed structure stands between city and sea in the space occupied a decade ago by green trees and sandy beach.

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