A Letter from Japan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Captain Christopher Marques is a young Salvation Army Officer (minister) who is from Decatur, Illinois, but is currently stationed at The Salvation Army’s Headquarters for Japan. His normal work is with the young people in Japan. Below are some excerpts from a message we received from him early this morning:

…Thank you for your prayers. They are perhaps the greatest gift we can use right about now. As you know, the country is still being shaken by aftershocks; even today we just felt a larger one after lunch. But so far they have not been near the level we saw on Friday I am starting to get used to the ground shaking a little bit on and off, but still am surprised by some of the frequent medium-sized incidents.

There is still a problem with the reactors that are critical and leaking in the Fukushima area (in-between Tokyo and the tsunami-hit area of Sendai). The immediate area surrounding the plant has, of course, been evacuated from a 30 kilometer radius.

For now, those near the affected area who have not been evacuated or staying in temporary shelters have been advised to stay indoors. In the rest of the country we aren’t moving much since gas/petrol is hard to find…the fuel lines are still stretching for blocks for anyone trying to get their car filled up.

The power supply is being cut in various areas to save the whole electrical system from crashing. With subways and trains running reduced schedules, and cars being used less- many are either using bicycles, walking or staying home.
The stores are struggling to keep shelves full and some things are simply impossible to find—even for us trying to get food for the relief victims. Today was not quite as crowded or busy in the grocery/convenience stores.
Most of us here have thankfully been able to go to work each day and help manage the relief effort from our Tokyo office.

My boss has left to help support the first relief teams that are further north. He has training and experience with disaster situations, so he was a natural choice along with the rest of the group. However, he is very close to the reactor area helping with victims and I pray for his safe return.

Today, during our daily morning devotions, we sang Count Your Blessings, and that song really came alive as we thanked God for our lives, His protection, our basic needs being met at this time and just having shelter, clothing and access to some kind of food each day.

We appreciate your continued prayer support for the people here during this difficult time. May God bless you all back home and keep you hearts firmly connected to Him.

God Bless You,
Chris

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Worldwide Support Helps Salvation Army Emergency Response in Japan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Salvation Army teams in Japan have arrived and are serving at several disaster sites in Japan. The Japanese Government has recognized The Salvation Army’s work and has given our teams permission to enter the disaster area and use access roads that are closed off to the public.

The first of the three teams went to Sendai, where about 1,000 meals were served to evacuees. Our mobile emergency canteen prepared hot meals and drinks to give out at the Sendai Salvation Army church.

Another team went to a relief office in the Mito area and unloaded bottles of water, biscuits, blankets, diapers and tissue boxes for distribution to evacuees.

The third team headed to an area where people had been evacuated from the vicinity around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, but snow and shortage of petrol meant they had to divert to other areas to support evacuees.

Offers of support are pouring in from around the world. Two experienced emergency services workers have flown to Tokyo from The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London to assist their Japanese colleagues. The BBC reports that volunteers from a British group which failed to obtain clearance to work in the affected areas ‘donated their food and medical supplies to The Salvation Army working in the country’.

The Salvation Army’s Korea Territory has arranged for the K-Water Corporation to provide 100,000 bottles of water to be sent to Japan – 30,000 bottles by the end of the week, followed by the rest within a short time – and the Korea Disaster Relief Association will be sending 5,000 first-aid kits. Salvationists in Korea are holding a month of prayer for the people of Japan.

In a touching show of solidarity 1,500 young Salvationists in Haiti – who themselves have recent experience of a devastating earthquake – made prayer for Japan a focus of their rally in Fond-des-Nègres on March 11-12.

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Disaster Teams at Work in Japan, More on the Way

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Salvation Army in Japan has three emergency service relief teams working in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. One of the teams is assisting people who have been evacuated from areas threatened by the damage of nuclear power plants.

In our original blog post on the disaster, we mentioned a Salvation Army assessment team was sent to Tokyo to Sendai (the city nearest the center of the earthquake). While this trip usually takes 6 hours, it took the team 20 hours to reach their destination.

Emergency service personnel from The Salvation Army International Headquarters (IHQ) in London will also soon head over to Japan to assist with the relief effort.

Overall, there is much damage to the country. Road and rail systems have been severely affected. Gasoline supplies are low, with many gas stations closed and lines up to three kilometers long at stations that are open.

The disaster has affected a 2,000 kilometer north-south stretch of Japan. Official reports now state that more than 10,000 people are dead or missing.

At this time there are no reports of any loss of Salvation Army personnel or damage to our buildings.

Many Salvation Army territories are offering financial and prayer support for our relief effort in Japan. The Salvation Army in South Korea has set aside the next four weeks specifically for prayer and fundraising for Japan.

If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s Japan relief efforts, you can do so in the following ways:

* Donate online at donate.salvationarmyusa.org
* Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY
* Text the words “Japan” or “Quake” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. (Please ensure that you respond “YES” to the Thank You message you receive.)
* By mail: Send your check, marked “Japan earthquake relief” to

The Salvation Army World Service Office
International Relief Fund
PO Box 630728
Baltimore, MD 21263-0728

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How To Support Japan Relief Efforts

Friday, March 11, 2011

For those of you wanting to help The Salvation Army’s earthquake relief work in Japan, you can support our efforts in several ways:

* Donate online at donate.salvationarmyusa.org
* Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY
* Text the words “Japan” or “Quake” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. (Please ensure that you respond “YES” to the Thank You message you receive.)

Thank you for generous support and continuous prayers for those in Japan. To learn more about our relief efforts, click here.

Gifts In-Kind: At this time, The Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations from the general public. It is extremely difficult and expensive to ship in-kind donations overseas from the US to Japan. It is more efficient for disaster relief agencies to purchase needed resources locally and for immediate distribution with the disaster area. The best way for U.S. donors to help Japanese disaster survivors is to make a cash donation. Please note that your local The Salvation Army continues to accept donations of used clothing, furniture and other items to support local programming. Please consider donating your used items to your local Salvation Army Thrift Store.

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Japan Earthquake Efforts

Friday, March 11, 2011

Following news of the massive earthquake and resultant tsunami in the Pacific, The Salvation Army in the USA is staying in contact with The Salvation Army in Japan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this unimaginable disaster.

Commissioner Makoto Yoshida of The Salvation Army in Japan described it as the largest earthquake in the last 100 years. He reported the most damaged city is Sendai, which is about 400 km away from Tokyo.

We’ve learned from him that they are sending a team to Sendai tonight and tomorrow will start providing basic needed necessities, as well as assessing the level of damages and what they can do.

In Tokyo, because the whole public transport shut down and stranded many commuters, The Salvation Army opened a section of their Territorial Headquarters building for those who could not get home. The Army served them hot drinks and meals.

We expect to have reports from The Salvation Army in Hawaii soon and will keep you updated as information comes in.

Background: The Salvation Army has been at work in Japan since 1895, operating more than 80 centers there, including two hospitals and four Children’s homes. The Salvation Army has nearly 200 officers, 3,000 members and just under 1,000 employees already at work in Japan.

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Salvation Army Italy Readies to Shelter North African Refugees

Monday, March 7, 2011

JDIR, TUNISIA – FEBRUARY 23: People fleeing Libya carry their luggage to the Tunisian border post on February 23, 2011 in Jdir, Tunisia. As fighting continues in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli, thousands of guest workers and Libyans are fleeing to Tunisia to escape the violence. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi has vowed to fight to the end. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Refugees are fleeing Libya through Tunisia by the thousands as turmoil continues in the unstable North Africa, and The Salvation Army may soon have an opportunity to assist them.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini predicts an exodus of “Biblical proportions” if Gadhafi falls, and the European national is preparing for a potential surge of immigrants.

Italian authorities have asked The Salvation Army to arrange for its Atena Lucana Centre to be used as a temporary home for these refugees.

The Centre, about a 2 hour drive southeast of Rome, should be ready within the next few days and will be able to hold at least 50 people.

Read more here.

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World Track Stars Team Up with Army for New Zealand Earthquake Relief

Friday, February 25, 2011

In New Zealand, The Salvation Army continues earthquake relief efforts. Major aftershocks are still being felt, and members of the community are still “very distressed.” Our staff and volunteers are focused on providing them with food and psychological support.
Today, 56 psychosocial Salvation Army staff are at work, and a fresh team of about 50 others will take over Monday. Several Salvation Army buildings were significantly damaged in the quake, but thankfully our response teams are able to work from temporary locations.
An exciting international sporting and fundraising initiative is being planned for Saturday to raise funds for the Army’s earthquake response. Top international and Olympic athletes were to compete in Christchurch, but after the event was cancelled, the athletes decided to organize ‘Track Meet 4 Christchurch.’ World class athletes confirmed so far include: Nick Willis (Olympic silver medalist), Alan Webb (US mile record holder), Lee Emanuel (British representative and sub-four minute miler) and many more international and New Zealand-based track stars.
The meet is free to attend, but The Salvation Army will be on site to collect donations.
A long term response will be needed to help the community recover, and the Army’s aim is to support the local economy wherever possible in the use of donated funds. If you’d like to help support recovery efforts in New Zealand, click here to donate to their online campaign.
The Salvation Army New Zealand has been posting updates on their website every day since the earthquake. Visit them here for more info on how they’re helping.

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Salvation Army Responding After Destructive New Zealand Earthquake

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Salvation Army in New Zealand is responding after the city of Christchurch was struck by a major earthquake today – the second in less than 6 months. At least 65 people are known to have been killed hundreds are trapped in the debris.

By late afternoon The Salvation Army was assisting more than 1,000 people. Locals are being temporarily housed in large marquees that were already on site for a flower show.

Major Rex Cross, emergency services coordinator for The Salvation Army in Christchurch, said that The Salvation Army was calling its emergency response teams together but travel across the city was extremely difficult. Food supplies for approx. 1,500 people were also being organized.

Some Salvation Army buildings are reported to have been damaged by the quake.

This disaster comes as a significant blow, especially as the shock of September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake is so fresh and reconstruction from that event has not even finished.

The Salvation Army New Zealand has launched a Canterbury Earthquake Appeal in order to swiftly respond to the area’s humanitarian need. If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, click HERE to donate.

Read The Salvation Army’s full earthquake report here.

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Salvation Army Prepares to Serve Ahead of Massive Winter Storm

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Across the country The Salvation Army is making preparations for the massive winter storm forecast to bear down today and tomorrow on states stretching from the Midwest all the way to the Northeast.

Feeding locations and mobile kitchens are being stocked and readied to serve hot meals in many areas. Pending a review of tonight’s expected conditions, The Salvation Army in Nebraska hopes their Winter Night Watch (WNW) program will be able to roam the streets of Omaha to distribute food and drinks to the homeless, as well as winter outerwear for those in need.

As temperatures drop into the teens and negative digits, the homeless or anyone in need of a safe, warm place is encouraged to head to Salvation Army warming centers open across Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and other states. Specific addresses are being reported by the local media or can be found by contacting your nearest Salvation Army.

In Chicago, where they’re predicting historic blizzard conditions, the city’s Emergency Services Director has announced they will be partnering with The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and other organizations to effectively coordinate storm response. Many of our Salvation Army Divisions, in fact, are participating in conference calls today to plan with local governments and other entities.

If you or your loved ones are in the storm’s path, we hope you stay warm and safe over these next few days.

Check back soon for updates on The Salvation Army’s efforts.

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Photos: Brazil Mudslide Relief Efforts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Following the massive mid-January floods and landslides in Brazil, The Salvation Army continues to respond to need in affected communities. The Salvation Army of Brazil has posted photos to their Flickr account of damage and disaster relief efforts. We’ve included a few below to share with you a clearer picture of some of the work being done and the challenges that remain for survivors. You can find the full album here.

Supplies, logistical support, and more than 10 tons of donations have gone out to key areas, as well as financial support from The Salvation Army’s World Services Offices (SAWSO), the international arm of The Salvation Army USA. Local Rotary Clubs, businesses, and churches in São Paulo and Sorocaba have also pitched in to assist with disaster relief efforts. It is expected it will take months for local communities to recuperate.

If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s Brazilian mudslide appeal, please visit https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp to make a donation.

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