April 1, 2011

A mud-covered street in Ishinomaki.JEN‘s team in Ishinomaki reported that it had divided up into four groups that were focusing on removing mud, providing hot meals, addressing emotional needs, and providing mobile relief services. The most urgent of these tasks is mud removal. The tsunami left wide swaths of land covered in foul-smelling mud that is a foot or more deep. As time passes, the mud is starting to dry and harden, and as particles of that mud get into the air, it will have an increasing health impact. There are currently about 20,000 people who are “in-home evacuees” in Ishinomaki, facing the daunting task of cleaning the mud and water-laden furniture and other items from their homes. When wet, a single tatami mat (floor coverings made from straw) can weigh more than 200 pounds, which is hard for most women and seniors to move. JEN is working to coordinate tools, volunteers, and replacement tatami to help in the cleanup efforts.

Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan continues to provide hot meals to those in Iwate Prefecture. On the 31st, they served people at four locations—shelters and facilities for the disabled and seniors. They also delivered relief items to four locations. In some cases, they were returning to a location and were delivering items that had been requested by the evacuees, such as clothing, towels, and toilet paper.

Given that medical staff have now arrived from prefectures and medical associations throughout Japan, and that the emergency medical needs have lessened, Association of Medical Doctors in Asia (AMDA) will shift its focus and increase its support for nursing and caregiving in addition to medical treatment. It is partnering with an Okayama-based company, Message, that provides nursing services throughout the country. Message will be sending two-person teams to assist the AMDA medical teams, and they will rotate every six days. As of April 1, AMDA has 24 doctors and nurses in Otsuchi (Iwate) and 9 doctors and nurses in Minamisanriku (Miyagi).

AMDA teams noted that after three weeks without running water, sanitary conditions at the evacuation centers are understandably deteriorating. In response, they held a meeting with an association of local government leaders to give them information on the norovirus.