Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Scooped the NY Times! Operation Tomodachi

This is not what it's about guys, but I am so tickled to death ........ the following article was posted on the NY Times at 6:49 ET today this evening.   Now remind me, at what time today did you first hear about Operation Tomodachi???????

Actually,  The Wall Street Journal had already blogged this story here on March 20, just one day ahead of me, and on the U.S. Defense Department site here, it had already been announced on March 12, 2011, that Operation Tomodachi was underway.  Now that we know what the American effort has been called, it's easy to google it and find all sorts of sites reporting on the doings.  It's a great way to be reassured that help is getting to those who need it, and if you have U.S. Military family involved in the effort in Japan (you probably know this already) but there are many ways to find out exactly what they are up to.  It may be that insiders in the media and government knew about this all along, but since most of the mainstream media had not reported about it, and the Libyan events (which I think I'm glad about) have taken over the news pages, it has been an agonizing week of worrying for both those within and outside of Japan.  I know that I am not alone.

I've also been in touch with Yoko Hayashi who is in Tokyo.  This is her blog (normally about her art and Tokyo life) these days describing Tokyo during and after the quake.  I found her via Suzanne at SakuraSnow.  I didn't know Yoko before but it has been very touching to hear how much she appreciates our concern.  I've asked her to please let us all know what else we can do to help as time goes on.

You'll see in the article that some medicines can still not be provided by outsiders so again, I'll ask you to email your local Japanese authorities and Consulates where you are and urge them to get moving on this and get the medicines out there!

No Corner View from me this Wednesday, my normal blogging schedule is a bit discombobulated this week.  Thanks again everybody for all your efforts on your own sites and all the other ways that you are trying to help.

From the New York Times today:

Rebuilding Lives and American Ties to Japan

ON BOARD THE RONALD REAGAN — When United States Navyhelicopters swept down on the school in a ruined Japanese village, survivors first looked hesitantly from the windows. Then they rushed out, helping unload food, water and clothes. They clasped hands with the Americans. Some embraced them.

1 of 7
The Destruction and Aftermath
Photos of the unfolding disaster in Japan.
    “They are like gods descending from the sky,” said a tearful Junko Fujiwara, 37, a secretary at the elementary-school-turned-shelter in the northern coastal town of Kesennuma. “It’s cold and dark here, so we need everything: food, water, electricity, gasoline, candles.”
    Soon after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the United States military began what it calls Operation Tomodachi (Friend), one of its largest relief efforts in recent years. At present, about 20 American ships have massed off Japan’s northeastern coast, including theRonald Reagan, a nuclear-powered carrier whose helicopters are busily ferrying supplies to survivors.
    That relief is getting through to sometimes difficult-to-reach coastal areas devastated by the March 11 double disaster. They are also the latest showcase in the Pentagon’s efforts to use its forces to win good will for the United States abroad, a strategy that it used successfully in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami there.
    In particular, the United States has grabbed a chance to rebuild ties with a crucial Asian ally that just a year seemed to be flirting with pulling out of Washington’s orbit. The fact that American ships arrived so quickly on the scene has been a chance to demonstrate the value of having dozens of American bases in Japan, which hosts some 50,000 military personnel.
    “What we are doing here is diplomacy,” said George Aguilar, the commander of the HS-4 Black Knights, a helicopter squadron on the Ronald Reagan. “This is our best friend in the region.”
    It seems so far to be a highly successful effort, at least in the areas the helicopters visited. On Sunday, as the squadron ferried supplies to towns devastated by the tsunami, usually to schoolyards or sporting grounds converted into landing zones, Japanese residents welcomed them with deep gratitude. Many were isolated when roads were washed away.
    “We will always remember the Americans’ coming at a time when we needed help,” said Osamu Abe, 43, an official in the town of Minamisanriku, where Commander Aguilar’s squadron dropped off bottled water, military rations and children’s clothing on Sunday.
    At the same time, the American military has found itself trying to achieve a delicate balance. The United States has played a role in many aspects of the response to the recent crisis in Japan, including sending fire trucks to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But the Americans seem keen to avoid embarrassing the Japanese, or suggesting that the United States is running the show.
    Indeed, Japan has at times appeared overwhelmed by the multiple disasters — the earthquake and tsunami have left more than 26,000 dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless, and the plant still faces a possible meltdown. The United States mustered a large presence in tsunami-hit areas quickly, while Japan has been slow to reach some heavily damaged areas, especially around the nuclear plant. The Navy said Monday that it had delivered 194,700 pounds in supplies to ruined areas, much of it essentials like food, water and clothing.
    “We really appreciate this swift and huge capability,” said Capt. Hidetoshi Iwasaki of the Maritime Self-Defense Forces, Japan’s navy.
    Partly, the speedy response was a result of chance: the Ronald Reagan and its battle group happened to be passing nearby en route to war games off South Korea. The carrier, with a crew of 4,500, can launch aircraft and also create drinking water, something needed in the disaster zones.
    The Americans said they wanted to stay until the Japanese were able to get regular supplies into the remote coastal towns that were slammed by the waves. Japan appeared to be making steady progress in building such overland links, they said.
    The American response to the nuclear crisis includes not only fire trucks, adding to efforts to spray water on the overheating fuel rods, but also United States reconnaissance aircraft, which have been helping the Japanese monitor radiation levels.

    Rebuilding Lives and American Ties to Japan

    (Page 2 of 2)
    On the Ronald Reagan, emissions from the crippled plant have been an acute concern for the Americans. The Navy fliers said they were trying to stay at least 50 miles away. When helicopters returned from relief, they and their crew were carefully scanned with Geiger counters.

    1 of 7
    The Destruction and Aftermath
    Photos of the unfolding disaster in Japan.
      The carrier itself has also pulled back to at least 100 miles away from the reactors. When the wind near the plant changed direction, the Ronald Reagan went into what sailors called “Circle William” mode — closing off all hatches and ventilation openings to prevent outside air from entering. Crew members said radiation was something the ship had not had to deal with in years.
      “We’re digging out the old cold war-era manuals on how to protect the ship from radiation,” said Commander Aguilar, the squadron chief.
      Commander Aguilar, 40, said the damage and death toll from Japan’s tsunami were far larger than another disaster in which he was involved in relief efforts: Hurricane Katrina.
      “This exceeds Katrina,” he said. “This looks like the arm of God just scraped the land clean.”
      He and other American helicopter crewmen said they were stunned by the randomness of the tsunami, witnessed by a large ferry boat placed perfectly atop a three-story building, or an entire house floating intact miles out at sea, with curtains still in the window. A debris field of splintered wooden pieces of Japanese homes and capsized boats of all sizes encircled the Ronald Reagan, about 15 miles offshore.
      Another surprise, the airmen say, was the lack of injured. The Reagan had considered offering its vast hangars as makeshift hospital space. However, few of the survivors who crowded into schools and other makeshift shelters needed emergency medical attention. The Americans said they evacuated only a small number of injured, including a Swedish national with appendicitis.
      “You were either in the way of the tsunami, or not,” said Lt. Chad Upright.
      At the crowded refugee center in Minamisanriku, where 250 survivors slept on the floor, Mr. Abe said the most urgent thing needed was medicine for colds, fever and allergies. But the American airmen said they could not hand out medicine without the permission of the Japanese government, which they did not have.
      Something similar happened after the deadly Kobe earthquake in 1995, when foreign medical supplies and even doctors were turned away at the border by Japanese bureaucrats.
      This time, the Americans promised to ask the Japanese for quick permission to hand out American-made medicine, and for help in translating the directions into Japanese.
      Much of what the Americans have handed out are goods taken from their own ships: extra food and blankets, and even the sailors’ own clothes.
      There were stuffed toys for children, too.
      To alleviate food shortages in the shelters, the Ronald Reagan sent 77,000 frozen hot dogs to a Japanese warship, which boiled them and gave them out.
      The American aviators also seemed touched by the Japanese reception. In the squadron briefing room on board the Reagan, someone had hung a drawing of two smiling frogs saying, “Thank you!” and “by Saki Owada (age 5).”
      Airmen in other squadrons also spoke at length about the Japanese warmth. Michael Adomeit, 34, a helicopter crew member from the destroyer McCampbell recalled one drop-off.
      “There was this line of grandmas came out to give us hugs and say thank you,” he said. “It makes you realize how important this mission is.”


      1. you are an impressive great sport!

      2. Une Dame Paradis sur le front !!! à la pointe pour nous tous.

      3. Thank you! really merci de tout coeur! Tu ES un ange.

      4. Good work Mlle Paradis! And I'm so glad to read that you've been in contact with Yoko - yay!
        (P.S. Your hand-crafted coffee table, in your previous post, is MOST impressive - the stainless steel top gives it a great 'edge'!)