East Japan Earthquake    March 11, 2011

On-site report from Rikuzen-takata

March 23, 2011

Committed Team visits Rikuzen-takata from March 20th to 22nd
A team of 4 people from Committed Japan left late in the evening of March 20th. With a full tank of gasoline (which they were praying would last the entire trip) and a load of supplies to deliver to the victims of the March 11 Earthquake, the team headed out north.

Along the way, they passed several gas stations and saw long lines of cars waiting for gas. Fuels are scarce even in Tokyo.


After about 12 hours of driving, the team arrived safely on the 21st, picking up a director of Iwate Broadcasting Network along the way to guide them in the local area. As the team reached the city, the damage they saw made them speechless. It was beyond what they had imagined from what they saw on TV. The tsunami plowed 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) or more inland and swept away 80 % of the city.

Reunion of Kana and her mother

Kana and her mother, Keiko, were reunited at the temporary City Hall office. Kana's mother survived the tsunami, but out of the 300 City Hall workers 80 are dead. The remaining 240 workers are working hard so that the city administrations can somewhat function. Kana's mother is among them.
She, a victim herself, has been working tirelessly from 7:00 in the morning till 10:00 at night at the death registration office, doing all she can to support the local victims.

[Read the amazing story of how Kana's mother survived the tsunami]

Crematoriums are running beyond capacity. Dry ice greatly needed.
Crematoriums are running beyond capacity. The city has only one crematorium which normally handles 4 cremations a day but has increased the number to 7. Yet still 800 bodies are waiting to be cremated. The only advantage to the continual weather they have been having is that it is helping preserve the bodies. A city office worker told the Committed team that the problem is exacerbated by power shortages and a lack of dry ice to preserve bodies. In addition, because of the lack of gasoline for the cars, people are unable to go identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The brave mayor
God also opened a door for the Committed team members to meet with the city's mayor. The mayor Futoshi Toba, 46, was pleased to hear about Committed's plan to provide long-term relief. While his wife, 38, is still missing, this newly elected (last February) mayor's first job was to accept notifications of death. "A lot of people are still looking for their loved ones. I cannot be mindful of myself," he answered in reply to a TV reporter's question about his missing wife.

This brave mayor, who survived the tsunami by a few seconds after being pulled up onto the roof of the City Hall, is putting aside his own interests and serving the people. Kana's mother told the Committed team that, when the tsunami waters ebbed away, he was the first one to get off the roof and confirmed that the conditions were safe.
Left:Futoshi Toba, Mayor of Rikuzen-takata    
Right:Committed staff Tiger

The city is just beginning their work of recovery
The Committed team arrived in the city just as the Japan Self-Defense Forces and firefighters were ending the search for bodies. The people of this devastated city now face the monumental task of rebuilding their hometown. Although the people's attention had been more focused on the basic necessities of life for the first two weeks, with the construction of temporary housing underway in the city, people are standing up again to move forward. As they are starting to clean away the rubble, they listed brooms, shovels, chain saws, etc. as the next necessary supplies.

Strong partnership with Iwate Broadcasting Network --- Special "Committed" program to be aired this coming Saturday.
Another harvest from this trip has been a stronger association built between Committed Japan and Iwate Broadcasting Network, the biggest radio station in Tohoku area, northeast Japan. This is the radio station that supported Marre prior to his debut as a singer.
The association had sort of drifted apart over the past several years, however, the release of Marre's latest book this fall restated the relationship and opened up the door for Marre to join their 24-hour special Christmas program last year.
Since then, Marre's association with the radio station has been very strong once again. And this was the timing the great earthquake and tsunami hit northeast Japan.

Since the disaster, the radio station has been struggling from a lack of staff as well as serious mental issues the local producers and reporters are experiencing themselves. Committed team's visit seems to have brought them just what they needed at the perfect timing.

Now Tiger, a Committed staff and a professional radio DJ, has been entrusted to produce a special program for them to broadcast this coming Saturday. It's going to be a special one-hour program where Committed Japan's relief effort in the city of Rikuzen-takata will be introduced, followed by a long interview with Kana, then a message of hope by Marre, and ending with one of HEAVENESE's (Committed's praise band) popular songs that gives a message of encouragement and hope for the future. In fact, this Committed-produced program will be the first program to handle earthquake-related documentary besides the news shows.


After the interview with Kana, the director of the radio station told the Committed team how he was impressed with Kana's words. He said she has "many wonderful words." Kana told the interviewer that she believes her life is not in her hands and that out of the trial will come out something really good, her beloved hometown will be rebuilt to become an even better place. Afterwords Kana told us that she was only sharing what she has been learning every week at Committed Japan.

Prayer Request

The radio show is going to be aired
at 9:00 pm, March 26 & April 2
(repeat broadcast)

Please pray with us for this show as it is not only going to be about facts and information, but also about Committed's attitude and conviction towards the disaster relief effort. Right now, people are listening to a lot of radio shows due to the lack of TV or other entertainment at the evacuation centers. The show is going to be aired at 9:00 pm--- Please pray that the message of hope will reach and bring light to hundreds of thousands of victims who are struggling in darkness. Please pray for the Iwate Broadcasting Network as well as they are willing to work alongside with Committed Japan. The director of the radio station, who has visited Kick Back Cafe, is eager to have Marre and the teams from Kick Back Cafe/Committed in Iwate prefecture. He says Marre is the most welcome figure in this time of trial as he can both "sing and counsel people."
 
We appreciate your prayers and support as we will be sending more teams and preparing for the long-term support in the afflicted area. Our desire is to build strong relationships with the local people and offer genuine "heart-to-heart" support for the victims where not only their physical needs but also their spiritual needs are met. 

On-site Report ----------------------


Kana's Hometown
A building stands in the rubble in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, March 13, 2011.

Rikuzen-Takata:5,000 Homes Under Water and 15,000 People Missing

On March 12th, the Self Defense Force of Japan started its rescue efforts of most all of the households of the city of Rikuzen-Takata that has been demolished by the recent earthquakes which is estimated at 5,000. From the rescue efforts in Takata area, the most damaged area, 52 bodies were recovered on the 12th, and on the 13th, 114 more bodies, totaling 166 in the 2 days. The rescue effort, however, has been slowed because of the debris blocking all traffic to the city whose population is 23,000. According to the task force of the city, roughly 8,000 people are staying in emergency evacuated areas. The city is doing what they can to locate the the rest of the population. The City Hall, a 4-story building, was engulfed by the tsunami and out of 300 workers there, the whereabouts of 100 employees hav not been determined. Also, the city resident registry has been lost causing difficulty in identifying who the victims are.
There has been some positive news as the Self Defense Force of Japan has been successful rescuing 37 people isolated from roofs of buildings. Rescue efforts will continue. (March 13, 7:48PM(JST), NHK)



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