Earthquake and Tsunami: Disaster relief effort

The March 11, 2011 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan was the largest in the country's history, and the resulting tsunami devastated vast areas along the Pacific coast.

Earthquake and Tsunami: Disaster relief effort

The March 11, 2011 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan was the largest in the country's history, and the resulting tsunami devastated vast areas along the Pacific coast.

Being headquartered in Japan, Specialized Group is striving to assist in the recovery effort.

To start, we collected supplies including ready to eat food and drinks that were donated by our staff. Diapers, sanitary wet wipes, towels and other daily necessities which are in desperate need were also generously contributed.

On April 2 the donations were delivered through Second Harvest Japan to towns that were directly hit by the tsunami.

One of our staff members from Specialized Group went with Second Harvest on a delivery of food aid to Ishinomaki. Below is a brief personal account of his experience.

The images on television still cannot prepare you for seeing the tragedy firsthand.

We left Tokyo on Friday night, and at 5:30am on April 2 we arrived at Ishinomaki, a town about 40km northeast of Sendai. The morning fog gave way to a very sobering sight of absolute devastation.

The whole area smelled of fish. Many buildings were impaled by large boats and cars. Vehicles were smashed or overturned, and others were literally wrapped around utility poles and trees. Satellite images would lead you to think that there are quite a few buildings left standing — but these are just shells with roofs. Much of the city is completely unlivable.

Our 4-ton truck was one of three teams that left Tokyo with food aid. In Ishinomaki we met with other aid workers and proceeded to unload our truck in a school playground that was strewn with debris and smashed cars, but which had become a distribution point for life-saving supplies.

Several hundred survivors lined up to have their turn at choosing items they needed. There were many elderly and small children who have been living among the devastation for 3 weeks now, without electricity, gas or running water.

Despite the scale of the disaster, I found that people were still hopeful and thankful for the aid that is coming in. But the road to recovery will be long and difficult, probably taking many years to rebuild and regain some sense of normalcy.

I hope that the rest of us will not forget about their ongoing need for aid as the months go on.

by Kevin Ing
April 4, 2011

Second Harvest Japan
Food for all people
http://www.2hj.org/