Rotary ShelterBoxes arrive in Japan
Local Rotary Clubs in Nebraska have supported the Shelter Box Program as part of their response to humanitarian need. Below is the latest information on the status of their work in Japan.
The first ShelterBoxes have arrived in Japan, five days after a huge earthquake and massive tsunami hit the country.
Reports from Japan say upward of half a million people have lost their homes in the disaster and emergency shelters are already overcrowded. It is feared that tens of thousands could have lost their lives.
An initial consignment of ShelterBoxes has arrived in Tokyo after flying from London Heathrow in the UK. Hundreds more are expected to follow in the coming days with thousands more on standby should they be needed.
The north-east coast of Japan’s main island Honshu faced the full impact of Friday’s tsunami and reports from the region say roads, rail, power and ports have all been destroyed. Freezing temperatures and snowfall are also compounding the gravity of the situation.
ShelterBox Head of Operations John Leach expects there to be a significant need for emergency shelter in Japan’s north.
“We’re still very much in the search and rescue phase and information gathering process of the disaster,” he said.
“Damaged infrastructure and a severe lack of fuel are making it extremely difficult for anyone to reach the remote north of Japan where we expect the greatest humanitarian need to be.
“Our team are dealing with a shortage of fuel, food and water. At this time they are unable to head further north. We continue to assess all options available for our continued response and closely monitor the safety of our team.”
In the last 48 hours, ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members Mark Pearson (UK) and Lasse Petersen (AU) have been working in and around Sendai, the closest city to the earthquake’s epicenter.
While there they visited one of many schools which are being used to shelter people who have been displaced. They say that many of these emergency centers have already become overcrowded and people are having to be turned away from them.
They have now returned to Tokyo to consolidate the current position with fellow team members John Diksa (FR) and David Eby (US) who have been working in the capital to clear logistical pathways.
The team has been fully supported by Japan’s Rotary network and in the coming days they will continue to forge partnerships with other organizations heading up the relief effort.
ShelterBox Founder and CEO Tom Henderson added: “Our supporters around the globe have been moved to act by the situation unfolding in Japan.
“Their generosity will ensure we can respond in whatever way required to the need in Japan as well as providing emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families across the world who lose everything when disaster strikes.”
Anyone who wishes to participate in this effort is encouraged to mail their contributions to the Rotary District 5630 ShelterBox chairman: C.J. Rezac, PO Box 606, Grant, NE 69140.
Last year Rotary provided shelter for thousands following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.