Commissioner Makoto Yoshida of The Salvation Army Japan provided us with an updated report on relief work taking place in the country.
General recovery efforts are progressing well – super markets are gradually reopening, 80-90% of gas stations in northern Japan have resumed business, and about 70% of roads are accessible. The Japanese government is significantly supporting the country’s relief efforts and providing much of the needed temporary housing.
However, he says the unresolved nuclear power station failure is causing uneasiness in the public. The search for missing people also remains daunting, as officials estimate there are 12,000 dead, 15,000 missing and 166,000 evacuees.
The Salvation Army Japan remains committed in their efforts, and we have brief updates from our dispersed disaster teams:
SENDAI: A team of 17 relief personnel and volunteers visited in March 23, distributing 1,130 meals and necessities, along with candy to the 83 children present. At that time, water and electricity supply was mostly restored, but gas is expected to take much longer. Supplies have been gradually reaching disaster areas, but camps have requested more tissues, diapers, and underwear. The Salvation Army believes that due to increased stability, food distribution may no longer be necessary in Sendai, and they’re exploring the possibility of visiting areas with greater need about 100 km north.
YABUKI-CHO: The Salvation Army Japan’s Major Kenji Fujii and Captain Kazuyuki Ishikawa met with the city’s mayor. They learned 52% of the area’s water has been restored, and they have plenty of food and drinking water. However, fuel and daily necessities are in short supply. The Salvation Army left with the town all the supplies they brought, but they have not received a request for additional help.
IWAKI CITY: Team members visited Iwaki City, which is just over 30km outside of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station. On March 24 they distributed 500 hot meals and 6,000 bottles of water. However, as food and supplies are becoming more readily available, Iwaki City officials have not requested additional support from the Army.
KESENNUMA : Kesennuma lies 120 km north of Sendai along the coast line, and the city is badly damaged. The Salvation Army is sending two teams to distribute food and necessities April 12-15. They expect to give out 1,000 meals and 5,000 bottles of water, as well as candy for the 100 children in the area.
RIKUZEN-TAKADA : Rikuzen-Takada also lies on the coast, 30 km north-east from Kesennuma, and was badly damaged by the tsuname. A team is presently distributing hundreds of hot meals and water. They are looking into further ways they may assist.
Donna Britt is a Salvation Army Advisory Board member and news anchor with WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was traveling with her family in Tokyo when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.
The way her story unfolds is no less than eerie. While they were visiting the Science and Technology Museum the day before, a volunteer showed her husband an earthquake sensor exhibit with real-time readouts indicating recent tremors.
It was the next day when Donna’s family was on their way to a Natural Disaster Museum to experience their “earthquake simulator” when they found themselves in the middle of the real thing!
Now safely back home in the United States, she’s written an account of the event and shared it under her bio at news station WAFB’s site. You can read her complete story of the events here: http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=14305750
Here’s a brief excerpt:
“Tren”, she said, motioning above her head that the subway train may have rattled us. But immediately the shuddering intensified and I felt one of my feet rise, independent of the other…then my second foot rose right after it. THE TILE FLOOR WAS RIPPLING. Disconcerted, I placed my hand on the tile wall to steady myself when the wall rippled. I looked and the tile was moving with ridges like waves passing over it.
…for that one split-second, my mind said “the last place you want to be in an earthquake is UNDERGROUND”.
“Ame ni Mo Makezu,” is one of Japan’s most famous poems. Roughly translated, the title means “don’t be defeated by the rain.” Its inspirational message encourages people to have hope and fight the world’s heartache by standing up for those in need.
Jackie Chan and dozens of Hong Kong singers and actors have adapted this poem into a new song, “Succumb Not to Sorrow,” which will be the theme of their upcoming Japan relief concert. Love Without Borders 3/11 Candelight Gala will be held on April 1 in Hong Kong with proceeds from the event going to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
But Jackie Chan isn’t the only celebrity using his star power to help Japan. We reported last week that Britney Spears donated 2 tickets to her Sunday performance taping for Good Morning America. California radio station Wild 94.9 decided to auction them off and donate the proceeds to The Salvation Army’s disaster efforts. We heard the winning bidder put up more than $1,000 for the tickets, which will go straight to supporting Japan!
For our latest Japan relief update, click here.
Our emergency teams in Japan tell us disaster response is going well and that most areas in need of assistance have been reached.
They’re still providing necessities such as food and water in Sendai and also in Yabuki-cho, both of which are near Fukushima but outside the exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant. Yabuki-cho seems to be one of the few areas not yet reached by government help.
Some areas hit harder by the disaster are still not accessible, but our workers in Japan believe other NGO’s are also not being allowed into these parts. The exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant is still in place and local reports say the situation is improving.
The Salvation Army in Korea has provided bottled water to Japan, and The Salvation Army World Services Organization (SAWSO) in the USA is organizing a delivery of blankets. They’ve also offered to send food packages if needed.
As many of you know, there has been a generous financial response to The Salvation Army’s Japan Disaster Appeal! Our Japan Territory believes funds already available in-country will cover the costs of the current response and that money raised from around the world will enable a medium to long-term response. The territory is considering building temporary accommodations and providing household goods and equipment, but these plans are still at the early stages.
Salvation Army in Japan Considers Long-Term Disaster Response
Lis Bennett (top right) poses with some of her Japanese students.
Lis Bennett is a young American who has been teaching English in Japan for 5 years. When the earthquake and tsunami struck, she lived only 25 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that is now the focus of much international attention.
For security measures, she was evacuated yesterday by her employing organization to the United States as radiation fears increased. After spending many years pouring into the local community and lives of her students, it is difficult for her to suddenly leave behind these dear friends and a country she’s grown to love.
The Daily News out of New York ran an interview with Lis in which she discussed what it was like at the school when the earth started shaking and the state of Japan in the days after. You can read the article here.
The school where Lis taught.
A friend of The Salvation Army, Lis shared with us via email how these events have affected her personally:
“Since this started, there have been days of peace and days where there is NO peace. It’s been a real roller-coaster ride for my emotions… Since there became concerns that the radiation was reaching our area, our bosses (the family who takes care of us so well) made a very difficult decision to send our whole team home. Which is a relief in some ways, yet so heartbreaking in others. I know in my heart that it’s best for us to go, but my heart aches deeply for the people of Japan, leaving these friends that I love so dearly, while they are here amidst devastation.
The family who takes care of us and many of my friends will stay in their homes until the [government] tells them they can no longer live here…this is their home, the one they’ve spent their lives building up…my heart is breaking.
It’s humbling to realize that some things, no matter how hard we try, can never be on our control. But what a relief to let go and just fall into the loving arms of our heavenly father, who’s the one IN control…THAT’S when we find our rest, reassurance, comfort, and peace…I am so thankful to know that God will make a way where there seems to be none…especially for Japan.”
To learn more about how The Salvation Army is providing relief to Japan, including Fukushima evacuees, click here. Thank you for your continuous prayers for the people of Japan.
Since Japan was struck by disaster just over a week ago, the immediate reaction of so many Americans was, “What can I do to help?” I’ve been wonderfully overwhelmed by responses from blog readers like you, leaving comments and asking questions about how you can show your support.
When people work hard to use their talents and good ideas for the purpose of disaster fundraising, amazing things result. On The Salvation Army Western Territory’s Expect Change blog, they’ve shared some creative efforts going on right now in the San Francisco Bay Area of California!
One involves an 11 year-old piano and singing prodigy Shane Tuner. Another is a local radio station’s “Bid on Britney for Japan Relief” auction – and yes, they do mean Britney Spears.
Read the full story here how some compassionate, creative people are using every opportunity to support Japan.
Thank you to everyone who has supported or is following our ongoing relief efforts in Japan. We’ve received more photos of the response work and have shared them below. Salvation Army International Headquarters also has them posted to their Flickr account here.
A Japanese Salvation Army emergency vehicle en route. Three Salvation Army emergency response teams were sent out from Tokyo to Sendai, Mito and towards the Fukushima area.
One of The Salvation Army Japan’s emergency canteen vehicles, preparing to serve up a fresh batch of hot noodles – very welcome in the cold temperatures.
The Salvation Army’s emergency canteen vehicles have been working hard, serving hot food and drinks to a thousand people at a time.
Poor weather did not deter the crowds, lining up patiently outside The Salvation Army’s corps (church) in Sendai.
The Salvation Army’s corps (church) in Sendai, near the epicentre of the earthquake, is also distributing essential supplies.
Relief supplies, comprising bottled water, biscuits, blankets, towels and diapers were prepared for distribution.
A Salvation Army kitchen in north-east Japan, with officers and members catering for some of the thousands who have been displaced by the earthquake and tsunami.
[Japan - SA Officer Distributing Food]
The Salvation Army’s officers and volunteers in Japan have been distributing packed lunches to evacuees and residents of earthquake-affected areas.
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,
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.
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