May 9, 2011

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As described in an AFP article on May 9 , the cleanup task in Tohoku is immense and volunteers have been helping local residents to remove the massive amounts of debris and the foul-smelling sludge that was left by the tsunami.

A British resident of Japan who volunteered to work for JEN in Ishinomaki (Iwate Prefecture) just before the Golden Week holidays, described his experience as a “sludge-buster.” He noted that he had contacted JEN because of its “reputation as a zero-waste, grassroots organization that . . . reaches places that other NGOs do not reach.” People in Ishinomaki who need their house or land cleaned up submit a “needs form” to the volunteer center, and the center matches those needs with the available pool of registered labor. This particular volunteer spent one day clearing debris from a field, removing doors, windows, beams, and other rubbish. The report notes that the tsunami is estimated to have covered an area of 433,000 square kilometers, so the cleanup is expected to take years.
In a related post, JEN has begun collecting donations of carpentry tools—saws, hammers, screwdrivers, sledgehammers, pliers, nails, sanders, etc.—that can help people in the affected area rebuild and repair their homes.

Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) reports that in response to requests from evacuees in Kesennuma, they delivered 50 books to the junior high school for the students’ morning reading time. The books include everything from the classics to contemporary novels.
PWJ is also planning to distribute shopping vouchers by the end of May to people moving into temporary housing in Ofunato in the hope that it will help the local economy.

NICCO reports that it was able to donate high-pressure washers and washing machines in response to requests from the towns of Otomo and Hirota in Rikuzentakata. They also dispatched two psychiatrists and one clinical psychologist to the field to operate mobile clinics, trying to help survivors deal with the trauma of the disaster and the stress of the aftermath.