A Group of People

NGO Spotlight: Japan

In disasters, Japan Earthquake, recovery, relief, response on April 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm

International Disaster Response Network

By @IDRN_News (via partners on the ground in Japan)

I am writing this report from Shiogama, Miyagi, Japan, a city hit hard by the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that have shaken Japan and affected the world. We are a team of 14 from the Tokyo area. We left on our second relief trip (3/24-26), with 3 trucks loaded with 6 tons of food, clothes, cold medicine, house-cleaning equipment, baby goods and emergency supplies. We also had an 8-passenger van and a 5-passenger SUV to complete our caravan.

Because we were registered as emergency vehicles, all 5 vehicles were able to use the expressway up to Sendai free of charge instead of paying the normal 7200 yen ($90) toll.

I went with the team to deliver goods. The city we chose to go to is called Ishinomaki, Miyagi, reputedly one of the hardest hit by the tsunami. The spectacle that awaited us was overwhelming – crushed houses, cars on roofs, debris scattered everywhere. We pulled into an open space next to a building and began distributing goods to the 200 or so who gathered. They had not received any outside aid like the people in shelters because they were living in their own homes and were left on their own.

Because the tsunami had left layers of mud in their houses, they quickly depleted the limited number of shovels, brushes, rubber boots and other cleaning tools that we had brought. Many also wanted gas cookers, thermos bottles, and of course fresh fruits and vegetables, which many had not eaten since the earthquake.

After the crowd disappeared, because we still had lots of goods, we moved to another location, the parking lot of a large supermarket. When word got around that free food and goods were being given away, 1000 people appeared out of nowhere and quickly got in line. We limited the number of articles each could take to 10 items. Of course, baby diapers, toilet paper, underwear, and all the food items were popular and went quickly.

People came in worn-out clothes. They looked haggard. We saw a young woman with only house slippers on her feet! This is unheard of in a country where people never wear slippers outside. We were able to give her a pair of shoes. People were so thankful; many asking who we were and where we had come from. Many said they had not received any relief supplies and that this was their first. We continued giving away what we had until it got dark, we had almost nothing left, and the line finally dissipated.

Thank you for your support!

For real time updates from Japan as well as to make a contribution to help support our efforts, please go here.

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