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Apr8FriSalvation Army in Japan continues to offer assistance to people in need: update April 8 April 8, 2011
Commissioner Makoto Yoshida, Commander of The Salvation Army's Japan Territory, reports that the country's recovery from a devastating earthquake and tsunami is 'going well', although he says that ongoing problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station continue to cause 'some uneasiness among the people'. He says that everyday goods, including fuel, are becoming easier to obtain and that around 70 per cent of roads in the disaster zone have now been reopened.
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The commissioner adds that the search for missing people is proving to be difficult. Officials report that 15,000 people are still missing, in addition to the 12,000 people known to have been killed in the disaster. Around 166,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.
The Salvation Army continues to provide assistance where there is a need.
More than 1,100 meals and other necessities were distributed in Sendai on March 23. Treats were given to the 83 children who went to the distribution. Power and water have now been restored in Sendai so The Salvation Army is likely to end its distribution there, although it may continue to provide assistance to needy areas north of the city.
The story is similar in Yabuki-cho, where Major Kenji Fujii and Captain Kazuyuki Ishikawa met the mayor, who reported that many houses that look fine from the outside actually suffered significant damage and will have to be demolished. Recently installed water pipelines for agricultural usage were destroyed, leading to the loss of the next rice harvest – a significant part of the area's economy.
The Salvation Army emergency team left goods in storage, to be used as necessary. The community was also given a clear message that The Salvation Army would provide support in the future if requested.
At Iwaki-city, which is just outside the 30-kilometre exclusion zone from Fukushima, a team of seven Salvation Army workers distributed 500 hot meals and 6,000 bottles of water in response to a request from the director of the emergency response volunteer desk.
Kesen-numa – about 120 kilometres north of Sendai – was badly damaged by the tsunami. The corps officer (Salvation Army church minister) from Sendai contacted a minister in Kesen-numa and discovered that the community needs support. It has been arranged for two Salvation Army emergency teams to carry out daily distributions of food and other necessities from April 12 to 15.
Thirty kilometres north-east of Kesen-numa is the coastal community of Rikuzen-Takada, which was badly damaged by the tsunami. A Salvation Army team distributed hot meals and water on April 5. While there, team members investigated how the Army can offer further assistance.
Salvation Army in Japan Considers Long-term Response to Earthquake
Update March 25
Salvation Army emergency workers in Japan report that the government disaster response is proceeding well and that most areas in need of assistance have now been reached. Salvation Army teams continue to provide vital supplies such as food and water in Sendai and also in Yabuki-cho, both of which are near Fukushima but outside the exclusion zone set up around the nuclear power plant. Yabuki-cho appears to be one of the few areas not yet reached by government help.
Some areas hit particularly badly by the disaster are still not accessible but Salvation Army workers understand that other non-governmental organisations are also not being allowed into these parts. The exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant remains in place and local reports suggest the situation is improving.
As previously reported, bottled water has been provided to The Salvation Army's Japan Territory from Korea. The Salvation Army World Services Organisation (SAWSO) in the USA is organising a delivery of blankets and has arranged for samples of food packages to be sent to territorial leaders who will then have the option to order any if needed.
There has been a considerable financial response to The Salvation Army's Japan Disaster Appeal from around the world. The 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 accommodation and providing household goods and equipment but these plans are still at the early stages.
Commissioner Makoto Yoshida, The Salvation Army's Territorial Commander in Japan, is grateful for the practical and spiritual support that has been offered from across the world.
He reports that commuters in Tokyo who were given food, drink and shelter at territorial headquarters on the night of the earthquake have sent letters of thanks, some including a donation for the relief work.
Salvation Army Earthquake Response in Japan Has to Overcome Weather and Fuel Issues
Update March 18
The Salvation Army's earthquake response in Japan is continuing its work despite difficulties caused by snow and the lack of fuel. A team that was set to head from Tokyo to the tsunami-hit north of the country had to delay its journey because of snow but has now made its way to Sendai, where a distribution will take place tomorrow morning (Saturday).
The three teams that carried out distributions in Sendai, Koriyama, Shirakawa, Fukushima and Mito City on Wednesday, March 16 returned to The Salvation Army's Japan Territorial Headquarters in Tokyo to report on what they had seen and decide what should be done next.
International Emergency Services worker Major Raelton Gibbs reports: 'The work that has been done is commendable – from feeding programmes out of Salvation Army halls to the distribution of blankets, water bottles, bread and nappies (diapers).'
He says that Tokyo continues to feel aftershocks and admits that 'no matter how many you experience they are all a little daunting'.
The Salvation Army distribution teams are well aware of the concerns surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and are staying clear of the exclusion zones.
Major Gibbs says he has been impressed by the response put together by The Salvation Army's Japan Territory. The fuel and weather problems mean that people have had to be flexible. He tells of one group that tried to get to Sendai but was unable to make it all the way and so met the needs of some smaller communities around Koriyama on the way back to Tokyo.
The focus is understandably on the immediate response but Major Gibbs says that longer-term plans are being put in place, such as the provision of cooking equipment when people return to their communities. As it often does in emergency responses, The Salvation Army will pay particular attention to communities that have been missed by the government and other agencies.