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.