Monday, March 28, 2011

First 5 days after the earthquake at Tokyo Office

11th, Friday: At 2:46 p.m. the 2011 Tohoku earthquake hit the Northeastern Japan, followed by a massive tsunami. Some time later the quake reached 2HJ Tokyo Office with the intensity level of 5 on the Japanese scale, while the preparation work for the soup run for the following day was going on at the office. The quake stopped all train services in most greater Tokyo areas. We set up an emergency soup kitchen at the office for "stranded commuters."

Emergency Soup-kitchen at the Office

12th, Saturday: We operated a soup-kitchen at Ueno Park as usual. While fewer volunteers turned up due to the cancellation of train services in Tokyo, the number of homeless people lined up in the soup kitchen remained the same.

Despite that we started hearing that the affected areas had been seriously struck by shortages of food and fuel, we could not deliver or send relief supplies to those in need in the area, because only authorized vehicles were permitted to drive on the highway from Tokyo to the affected area.

Meanwhile, more and more offers of relief supplies were reaching 2HJ Tokyo office from abroad. We asked them for financial donations rather than food donations, because of the bureaucratic procedure for accepting food from abroad.
Global Foodbanking Network, which organizes networking among foodbanks in 20 countries around the world, started their relief efforts for Japan.

13th, Sunday: As Charles McJilton, 2HJ executive director, and staff members were allowed to visit the affected area with a CNN crew, 2HJ could get an authorization to drive an emergency vehicle to the affected area. We were rushed to load a 2-ton truck with fuel, such as gas cylinder and light oil, and our drivers were headed to Sendai. We could not have got light oil without the benevolence from the nearby petrol station.

In Sendai we distributed relief supplies in a close collaboration with Food Bank Tohoku AGA-IN, one of 2HJ's partners.

14th, Monday: More and more relief supplies were sent to 2HJ Tokyo office from individuals and companies. Some company sent us as many foods as to make a truck full of them. Some individuals in Tokyo, who must have struggled to get enough basic necessities themselves, donated a box of household goods.

A lot of volunteers were sorting out those precious relief supplies, some of which were sent us with messages attached to them. One of the messages said, "Please send quickly!"

At night, following our first truck headed to Sendai the previous day, our 1.5-ton freezer/refrigerator vehicle, loaded with foods, blankets, and other relief supplies, departed from the office to Sendai.

The message says "please bring these to the affected people!"

Volunteers sorting out supplies

A 4-ton truck full of relief supplies

15th, Tuesday: The freezer/refrigerator vehicle arrived at Sendai. We heard that evacuation centers would not start the distribution of relief supplies until they got enough to distribute to each evacuee sheltered in the center, so we looked for information about relatively small and isolated evacuation centers.

Our staff member sent to Sendai set up "2HJ Emergency Field Office" there with Food Bank Tohoku AGA-IN. It aims to gather information in order to distribute what is needed most to who needs it most.

After the 15th our trucks carry relief supplies to Sendai every day. In addition to Sendai, they are going to Ibaraki on 18th, and to Fukushima on 23rd.

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