Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Not Over Yet - In Fact It's Quite Desperate

Rikuko Tachibana........."All I can say is, we're cheering the nuclear workers on," she said. "I want them to please do their best. And foreign governments and experts, please, please help us."   - LA Times, Sunday March 20, 2011.

I'm still appealing for anyone and everyone to contact Avaaz here, to request a petition to initiate more IMMEDIATE HANDS ON help for Japan.  (By the way, monetary donations in this crisis have fallen far short of any for recent crises dating back to 9/11).  Just today, has initiated a petition starting mechanism which I'm attempting  to figure out.  My petition disappeared after I clicked "Accept Terms".  So I'll let you know about that.  Meanwhile it is small orphaned children and seniors who are being left defenceless and helpless in this crisis.  I can't find the article, but yesterday I read one about a little nine year old boy going from shelter to shelter searching for his family whose car (which he escaped from) was swept away by the tsunami.  Countries are recalling their search and rescue teams because of fallout worries, meanwhile food, fuel, generators, medicine, special supplies are still needed!  The longer we wait, the worse it will get.  

I just can't stand by and do nothing my peeps!!!!

Excellent article in the Independent UK here about why "rich countries still need aid".

On Nicholas Kristof's site here, a variety of comments from all over the world, but some very enlightening ones from Japanese people or people in Japan, about the romanticization of Japanese culture in the face of these disasters and how that romanticization of the population's discipline and forebearance is not actually very helpful at the moment.   And how that cultural "norm" may be inhibiting them from asking for, and us from imposing, our assistance.

and from the Guardian UK also Sunday:

For Japan disaster survivors, trust is as badly destroyed as the landscape

In Ishinomaki city, there's still no heat, electricity or running water. And night brings its own terrors
People eat at an evacuation centre in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture
People eat at an evacuation centre in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture. Photograph: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

They withstood Japan's earthquake, tsunami and radiation terrors. But after nine days without heat, electricity, running water, regular meals or word from their loved ones, there are signs that the extraordinary fortitude of the survivors is being worn down by a widening humanitarian crisis.
Officials in Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, one of the coastal cities wrecked by the tsunami, say the shortages and a painfully slow return of services has led to rising anger at the government and sporadic reports of theft and violent crime.
"It's only natural that people get frustrated," said Yoshinori Sato, a spokesman for the city council. "It's because of the stress. People are hungry and frustrated. I've heard about people screaming and fighting over food."
There have been instances of looting at supermarkets and liquor stores. Sato had also heard reports about a stabbing and a rape in the town. "In some cases there were houses that were half-destroyed, and people would go in and look for anything they could find to use or to eat," he said.
"I feel sorry for them but a crime is a crime."
The humanitarian crisis is eroding confidence that Japan – for all its wealth and technological brilliance – is capable of managing a relief effort of such enormous proportions.
The numbers are daunting. The official death toll nationally rose to 8,277 on Sunday night, with 12,272 still missing. Nearly 500,000 people are homeless. More than 1.5 million households have no running water.
In the first terrifying hours after the tsunami, a quarter of Ishinomaki's population of 160,000 were displaced. About 1,000 are confirmed dead, and many more are missing. But because roads and communications were cut, it took the authorities two or three days longer to realise the extent of the destruction.
In the large pink local government building in central Ishinomaki, officials are doing what they can to keep people's spirits up. Sato has started to put out a daily news update to give people at least some sense of control over their life.
He's even invented a slogan for the morale-boosting effort, which translates as "Onward Ishinomaki".
Sato punches his fist in the air for the delivery. But he is in tears, and he acknowledges it is going to take much too long before the people of Ishinomaki see any real improvement.
Neighbouring towns are already getting electricity, kerosene or gas. But Sato just heard the authorities will be unable to restore gas connections for at least three weeks.
In Minato neighbourhood, which was cut off from the centre when a fishing trawler was upended on a bridge, the 500 evacuees sheltering in an elementary school did not get hot food until Saturday night.
A simple meal of rice, vegetables and miso soup, it was provided by volunteers from a camping enthusiasts' organisation – not the Japanese government. But as barber Katsuhiro Suzuki said: "Compared to the first days we were here, this is heaven."
The evacuees had no food or water for the first three days in the shelter, a state elementary school. Then they graduated to meals made up of a single rice ball or a banana – which they were occasionally directed to share. More food is beginning to arrive, but the shelter now has to stretch to feed the entire neighbourhood of 2,300.
"I've seen people fighting over a biscuit," said Eda Matsumi, who fled here with her three-year-old daughter.
There was still no heat, electricity or running water in the toilets on Sunday. Workers continued to scrape at a thick layer of mud over the ground floor. The cemetery at the back of the school now has the carcasses of cars dotted among the urns.
Nightfall, without electricity or a fully functioning police force, brings its own terrors.
"Of course when night falls it is very dark," said Shoji Yoshiaki, a councillor, who is overseeing the shelter. "I'm worried about the tension. People are stressed out.
"We got hit very badly and the recovery effort is lagging. A kilometre or two away, they have electricity, food, water, gas – everything – but here there is nothing."
Several evacuees, as well as people still living in the rubble of their homes, reported that a burglar had been stabbed during a robbery. There were also reports of a sexual assault. Their accounts could not be confirmed as the local police post has been destroyed. But the sense of fear is real.
Suzuki was burgled while he was in the house. The barber had gone back to pick up some belongings and check on the family shrine. In the short time he was there, a thief climbed up the ladder through which Suzuki entered his home and made off with his bank card and cheque book.
"I totally lost trust in everyone," Suzuki said. "My sense of trust is as badly destroyed as this landscape."
He is convinced, though, that the thieves had to be from outside the neighbourhood. "I was born and raised here and grew up here," he said. "I know everyone here."
Those bonds are what have sustained people since the tsunami: sharing food and water, and whatever warm clothes they can salvage from their homes. But as time goes on, those bonds are becoming more fragile and they only stretch so far.
"In this school everybody helps each other and it is great, but when we go outside that is when I am afraid," Matsumi said.
Matsumi's home – or what remains of it – is just across the street from the shelter, but she is afraid to go there alone to try to salvage her belongings. "When I have to go to my house, I get somebody to watch me from the window. Even then I run to get what I need. I don't want to stay there for too long," she said.
"I survived this earthquake and tsunami and I'm still alive. I can't die now because of some criminal out there."


  1. Thank you for keeping us up with all this Mlle Paradis!!

    We're all getting TV and newspaper coverage 24/7 but little of it covers what WE can do and in fact it is all too easy to think there is only ONE thing... when actually there are numerous ways to help.... not all require cash if one is short at this time.

    Just spent 4 minutes - if that - to send a request to Avaaz thanks to you .... Thats free!
    I've been reblogging an image here and there from Japanese tumblr sites... getting a return reblog which says we've acknowledged each other without language...simply through pictures!
    A quick scan of japanese tumblr archives shows lots of text posts being shared (which clearly I cant read)... with mixed images of regular stuff and on the ground images from those affected.
    ANd images of cats... intrigued how strong the love of cats is...I had forgotten that!

    Could not find my japanese friend but found her Canadian husband on a woodworking forum (which I cant enter) telling friends they are safe and well. She has a twitter site...hope one day she reads my message... think they might have gone with young child to Canada.

    Will add more to my blog. Was wondering why less money is going to this situation.
    S x

  2. Thank you for this links and info too.
    I read about it a lot...that's why I decided to give the proceedings of the raffle I'm having in my blog to MSF, at least I know they are not wasted, I like the way they tackle priorities, their words make good sense.

  3. I donated what I can through a local italian association that helps mostly children, And then I did my donation to the IFAW to help animals and maybe get them back to their families. When we had the fllooding last novenber I went to volunteer and it was great to give pets back to their owners. Many of them had loose everything but to know that not even thair cat or dog died was a great relief. I know it's not a same in japan, it's way more devastating, but it can still be a relief for some. And then there are the children. The ones that become orphans after disasters like this are the one I always think about. I wonder how you can go on and grow up serene...

  4. Yes... thank you for this. The stories are heart wrenching...