|OBI disaster relief teams delivered four tons of very specific urgent supplies to shelters in the city of Ishinomaki.
Report from the field: OBI teams share their firsthand, eye-witness accounts of the relief efforts in Japan
ISHINOMAKI, Japan – The word tsunami is made up of two Japanese words: “tsu” meaning harbor and “nami” meaning wave. Today I stood at the harbor in the city of Ishinomaki and saw where the giant “nami” hauled a ship up onto dry land and smashed buildings and homes in its path. As the Operation Blessing team continues to deliver vital relief supplies in the hardest hit areas, the extent of the destruction is still being uncovered.
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Hundreds of thousands of displaced tsunami victims are facing a second week in cold shelters with limited supplies, and it seems that it could be many months before they are moved into temporary housing.
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Last week, the OB team scouted towns and shelters in need of assistance. As we went into the disaster zone, we took with us as many supplies as we could pack in our van. Despite having limited resources available, OB managed to serve 2,500 displaced Japanese with essential food, water and fuel supplies.
|OB relief teams deliver supplies included, rice, water, bread, fruit, warm clothing, cooking stoves, candles and other canned food.
Now we are moving in with trucks and the name of the game is “volume.”
Today we delivered four tons of very specific urgent supplies to shelters in the city of Ishinomaki. The supplies included, rice, water, bread, fruit, warm clothing, cooking stoves, candles and other canned food.
A local team of volunteers set up in a tent, cooking hot meals to be delivered to several shelters. There are 200 shelters in Ishinomaki alone housing around 15,000 people. At one location, the Japanese military helped us unload boxes, which was welcome help in the bitter cold weather.
We also visited the general hospital in Ishinomaki. There were patients streaming in and out, and even the hallways were lined with beds. Many tsunami victims lost their medicines in the disaster and while the overall medical emergency is stable, there has been a spike in patients with difficulties from untreated chronic illnesses. In the basement of the hospital we unloaded food and hygiene supplies to help serve some of the 500 patients and hundreds of staff members.
|OB relief teams secured 1.5 tons of rice from Mr. and Mrs. Abe, who are local rice farmers.
After we had distributed our supplies, we headed inland to have a meeting with a rice farmers association. It’s almost impossible to find food in the stores at the moment in the disaster area. Rice is in huge demand and in order to find it, the only place left to go was to the rice farmers themselves. As we left Ishinomaki, I peered down into one rice field and noticed rotting fish everywhere—left behind by the tsunami waters. The rice fields went on for miles and miles. The disaster area also happens to be one of the most fertile rice growing plains in Japan.
We met with a farmer and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abe. They told us that due to the fuel crisis and interruption in the distribution chain they had rice available for purchase. This was huge news and we immediately secured 1.5 tons. Mr. Abe grabbed one of the 11-pound bags of rice to show us and it had a drawing of his family on the front, including him with his trademark glasses. Now that OB has established a regular supply chain, we can begin feeding thousands of displaced Japanese in shelters every day.
Tomorrow we are going back to the city of Shiogama to distribute supplies specifically requested of OB by the city mayor. He told us that people were desperate for clothing, particularly underwear and socks, since many had lost all of their clothing in the disaster. OB purchased hundreds of pairs of men and women’s underwear and socks. We are also delivering the first truckload of rice to Shiogama—the timing of which is good because today we heard reports of some parts of the city getting very desperate for food. In the meantime, we also have four large truckloads of bottled water headed north for delivery to Shiogama and other hard hit towns.
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