Overnight and into the grey, chilly morning, long lines formed outside small convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the tsunami-ravaged city of Sendai.

At one, Daiei, the orderly lines had begun 12 hours before the shop opened and stretched for blocks.

“I came to get baby food for my 2-week-old nephew,” said Maki Habachi, 23, who had been patiently standing for four hours and still had an eight-hour wait to go. “My sister only has one day’s food left.”

Without fuel for her car, she had ridden for two days by bike just to find food. Even bottled drinks in the ubiquitous corner vending machines were sold out.

Despite the line’s length everyone remained calm and polite.

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