「The Great Tohoku Earthquake Relief Work」 [2011/03/15]
「The Great Tohoku Earthquake Relief Work」
---Did the Nippon Foundation foresee this earthquake coming?
The first vanguard of relief goods enter the disaster-stricken area---
Saturday, March 12. Mr. Kazuto Sawatari of the Nippon Foundation succeeded in contacting Mr. Tsukasa Kurosawa former staff of the Nippon Foundation and currently the member of the operation committee of an NPO corporation, The Miyagi Disaster Relief Volunteer Center, NPO Dream Gate. Mr. Kurosawa already had set up his base at the Dream Gate, located in the disaster – stricken Natori City and had started the investigation of the needs of the region. Dream Gate is an organization that had been preparing for when the long predicted major earthquake would come and The Nippon Foundation had been supporting Dream Gate since 2009 as to serve as a shelter for the severely handicapped people.
We received an emergency request from Dream Gate to say that generators to operate the respirators of the severely handicapped people. Also that petrol is lacking and difficult to secure the life line for the patients. There are long queues at every petrol station and there is a limit of 10 liters per person. We receive the first urgent request to procure petrol in Tokyo and to send them right away, yet the petrol containers (which must not be metal) are all sold out. Finally we were able to succeed at the 12th petrol station to procure petrol in non-metal containers.
We started to look into what was the most appropriate way to send the relief goods such as the 3 generators that The Nippon Foundation has in store for emergency and the 50 litres of petrol to Dream Gate. Our decision was to ask the disaster volunteers who were leaving for the area on that same day.
However the highways were closed to all vehicles except emergency vehicles. We were informed that it would take more than 20 hours to get to Fukushima Prefecture on the open road.
But since it was a matter of saving the lives of the severely disabled people, we contacted the police station to give us a permit to use the highway as emergency vehicle.
Mr. Maeda, the Nippon Foundation executive director negotiates with the Akasaka Police Station (the Nippon Foundation registered area) over the telephone but was rejected. Since we have had a permit issued from the Saitama(Greater Tokyo Area) Prefectural Police Station in the past, Mr. S accompanied Mr. Maeda but was rejected at the Akasaka police station. Negotiations continued with the Saitama Prefectural Government, the Headquarters of the Saitama Police Station, and finally the permit was issued from the Urawa (a city in Saitama Prefecture) Police Station. All in all half a day was spent in acquiring the highway permit.
Midnight, March 13th (Sunday):
The vehicle with relief goods departs safely for the disaster-stricken area. On the same day, in the morning, Natori City calls to say that the goods have arrived into their hands.