Thursday, March 24, 2011

Salvation Army in Japan Considers Long-term Response to Earthquake

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 nongovernmental organizations 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 Organization (SAWSO) in the USA is organizing 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.

To help support the ongoing Japan relief efforts you can donate online at, or by texting "JAPAN" to 80888 to make a $10 donation. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Letter from Japan

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. Following are some excerpts from a message we received from him early on Wednesday Morning, March 16.
…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,
The Salvation Army has had a presence in Japan since 1895 and is also mobilizing a significant international response to manage both immediate and long-term needs.
·        Two experienced International Emergency Services workers have flown to Tokyo from International Headquarters in London to assist their Japanese colleagues.
·        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; the Korea Disaster Relief Association will also be sending 5,000 first-aid kits.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disaster Relief Underway in Japan

I’m sure that everyone has been following the news over the past few days monitoring the events a half a world away on the island nation of Japan.  What you may not know is that The Salvation Army is already on the ground providing relief assistance to those who have been affected by these horrific events.
The Salvation Army has actually been in Japan for more than a century opening their work there back in 1895.  Today we operate more than 80 facilities across the country including 57 church community centers (corps), 12 social services outpost, 2 hospitals and 20 children’s centers with headquarters located in Tokyo.
It was at the Tokyo Territorial Headquarters (THQ) that the Army’s response to the earthquake and following tsunami was first mobilized.  Once the reports came in about the devastation a team was dispatched to the hardest hit city of Sendai.  A trip that is normally a 6 hour trek took the responding team more than 20 hours to make due to the many impassable roads and destroyed infrastructure along the way.  Fuel stations having shortages and long lines of customers only magnified the already difficult situation.  Since that first day a second team has been deployed and both teams are working to meet the immediate life sustaining needs of disaster survivors across that region.
As that team was making the long journey, the THQ staff also opened its doors for the many commuters who were stranded in downtown Tokyo do to the shutdown of the public transportation infrastructure.  Japan has one of the most extensive subway and train systems in the world with Tokyo being its hub.  More than 10 million riders a day take advantage of this system, which was shut down immediately following the quake thus stranding thousands of people throughout the city.
Since the day of the earthquake, one of the added complications has been a threat of a catastrophic failure at a nuclear power facility.  This incident has prompted the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents from nearby communities as a precautionary measure.  The Salvation Army THQ in Tokyo deployed a third team to this area to help assist those evacuees.
As part of its International Emergency Services function, the International Headquarters of The Salvation Army deployed a team to Japan to help assist with the ongoing relief efforts.  Once that team arrives a comprehensive assessment will be conducted in accordance with the local leadership to determine the level of assistance that is both needed and able to be sustained.

Times like these require a tremendous amount of support in able to sustain the level of operation needed in order respond to an incident of this magnitude.  You can help by donating to The Salvation Army relief operation in numerous ways.  One way is through our website and click on the “Give” link for Japan Earthquake relief.  The other way to give is via a $10 text donation by texting the word “JAPAN” to 80888.  It is through the generous support of donors throughout the world that allow us to help during difficult times like these.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Update from New Zealand

1 March 2011
THE Salvation Army in New Zealand reports an escalation in welfare needs as a result of ongoing concerns for people affected by the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch a week ago.

Relief agencies have expressed their appreciation for the manner in which Salvation Army officers (ministers) have approached people to defuse potentially difficult situations where they may be feeling upset or angry as a result of current circumstances.

Assisting in welfare centres at three sites and a drop-in centre, The Salvation Army supplied some 4,500 meals to approximately 1,800 people in a single day. In addition, Salvationists provided food for the Tongan community and a group at Opawa Baptist Church and are now working with families to encourage them either to return home or to find other semi-permanent housing.

Overnight, a fresh influx of reinforcements from around the country means that there are now 90 people in The Salvation Army’s psychosocial team. Twelve personnel from the two Salvation Army territories in Australia were scheduled to arrive on Monday 28 February.

Some 90 Salvation Army personnel are providing support as part of 10-man ‘suburban squads’ that also comprise representatives from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission, engineers and Christchurch City Council. The Salvation Army team members provide emotional support to residents and identify material needs – requirements for food, water and medical supplies – as well as more complex issues such as anxiety, stress, getting to a doctor, or the concerns of elderly people living in isolation.

A further 12 people, assigned to ‘flying squads’, can be brought in whenever there is a need for an intensive psychosocial response, either taking over from a person who is delayed or taking their place and moving on with the rest of the assessment team. This team made 79 visits yesterday (Monday 28 February).

Salvationists are also on hand to speak to the bereaved who attend police briefings on the missing and confirmed dead, working alongside other agencies such as Victim Support.

Friday 25 February was an extremely busy day for staff of The Salvation Army’s community ministries. At Linwood Corps (church) Community Ministries, personnel carried out 490 interviews, with food parcels provided as required. Four hundred additional food parcels delivered by 60 drivers, including volunteers from other churches, were provided to those identified as in need. Although this was slightly less than the previous day, further demand was expected to be just as high, so 800 parcels were prepared in anticipation.

As with the 2010 earthquake, The Salvation Army is receiving excellent support from its partners at World Vision, whose staff are answering calls and staffing the Army’s Christchurch headquarters at Sydenham and will provide additional call response resources at territorial headquarters in the coming week. A World Vision logistics expert is assisting in Christchurch, and a staff member with expertise in large-scale disasters is on hand at Linwood Community Ministries Centre.

Enquiries are being made to locate a larger distribution centre and more office space for several Salvation Army activities, and several corps in the South Island (particularly Nelson) are providing ‘meet and greet’ support to families who have left Christchurch.

The hastily arranged ‘Track Meet 4 Christchurch’ took place on Saturday 26 February at Wellington’s Newtown Park. In an emotionally charged atmosphere, Nick Willis was presented with his Beijing Olympic silver medal – awarded as a result of the winner being disqualified – and then recorded a sub four-minute mile. Although spectator entry to the event was free, The Salvation Army collected donations for the Christchurch relief effort.

Report by Major Christine Tyson

Donations to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal can be made online via: and clicking the "donate" link at the bottom of the news article.