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.

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