Rev. Shoji Otani, chief officer of Iwate Diocese Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps (DRHC) and head minister of Kamaishi-ko Bunkyokai, sprang into action and cooperated with local government after the earthquake.
On March 12, the day after the quake, Rev. Otani surveyed the immense tsunami damage in Kamaishi City where he lived and went to Kamaishi City Hall to negotiate with officials regarding what assistance he could offer. Seeing that the workers at city hall were inundated with requests to respond to the crisis and thus deprived of sleep and rest, Rev. Otani delivered rice balls for the workers. He ended up delivering 300 rice balls in a week. When he learned that 20 residents had evacuated to Kamaishi Bunkyokai, which is located on a hill, he hurried to deliver supplies to them.
Meanwhile, Iwate Diocese staff quickly began to confirm the well-being of followers and determine the extent of damage to churches. However, the effort bogged down when a traffic ban was implemented in the prefecture.
On March 14, Rev. Minoru Oikawa, the consultant to the Iwate DRHC, received special emergency vehicle permits after negotiating with prefectural officials. On March 15 and 16, Iwate DHRC members split up and went to survey the coast along Rikuzentakata City, Kamaishi City, Miyako City, Ofunato City, Otsuchi-cho, and Yamada-machi.*
Further, after consultation with prefectural officials, a base of operations was established at a public facility in Tono City, which enjoys excellent access to the coast. The Yamagata Diocese DRHC arrived.
As preparations were being made to mobilize, members promptly responded to a request from Kamaishi City Hall. A team took four hours to reach a funeral home in Miyako City and brought back 70 caskets to a local morgue.
From March 20, relief operations began from the base in Tono City. Upon receiving a request from Kamaishi City, members went to support Self-Defense Forces to cook and deliver meals to senior citizens.
Between March 21 and 24, members of Akita Diocese DRHC arrived. They worked in tandem with efforts in Kamaichi City to help sort relief supplies that arrived at a volunteer center in Tono City. The supplies were then delivered to Kamaishi, Miyako, and Otsuchi-cho and distributed to evacuation centers and homes that were spared from damage.
Gunma and Mie DRHC Remove Wreckage to Help With the Recovery Effort
From March 25, DRHC members from Gunma and Mie dioceses arrived and contributed to the recovery effort at a commercial avenue in Kamaishi City where tsunamis knocked down homes and utility poles. While Self-Defense Forces repaired the roads, DRHC members used excavators and other heavy equipment to remove wreckage and rubble from the streets.
They were joined by Ishikawa Diocese DHRC members from March 29, who removed mud at a child care center in Kamaishi City. Shizuoka Diocese members arrived on April 2 and Fukuoka Diocese members arrived on April 4. They have been assigned to help with recovery efforts at a public facility in the city.
An expanded version of these online articles can be found on the front page of the April 10 edition of Tenri jiho.
(By TR Translation Staff)
Correction 4/11: Yamada-machi was mistakenly identified as “Yamada-cho” in the initial posting. We sincerely apologize for the error.