The American Red Cross is offering assistance to the Japanese Red Cross following Friday’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that left towns and villages in Japan devastated.
The earthquake triggered fires and caused severe damage to buildings, leaving five million households without electricity and 1 million without water. Early assessments indicate that more than 2,500 houses have collapsed completely, with 2,500 more damaged.
In addition, as part of preparations for the impact of the tsunami on Hawaii and the West Coast, the American Red Cross provided shelter and comfort to people forced to evacuate from their homes. Red Cross chapters in California, Oregon and Washington opened evacuation centers supporting more than 2,500 people seeking refuge from the tsunami waves. Warehouses and mobile feeding vehicles remain on alert in case they are needed.
Since early Friday morning, we have been in close contact with our colleagues in the Pacific region to offer our support and learn more about the humanitarian needs. The Japanese Red Cross has indicated that it would accept financial support from the American Red Cross for its role providing first aid, emotional support and relief items to those displaced.
On Sunday, the American Red Cross will deploy a disaster management expert from its Washington, DC headquarters to Japan for a week-long mission. She will serve on a seven-person, international team focused on providing high-level support and advice to the Japanese Red Cross, which continues to lead the local earthquake and tsunami response.
To date, the Red Cross has not received any requests for blood from the Japanese Red Cross, the Japanese government or the United States State Department.
In the first 24 hours, the Japanese Red Cross dispatched 62 response teams. These medical relief teams – made up of about 400 doctors, nurses and support staff – are already providing assistance in affected areas through mobile medical clinics, as well as assessing the damage and needs of the communities affected.
More than 300,000 people who were evacuated before the tsunami struck have been housed in temporary centers set up in schools and public buildings where the Red Cross has distributed upwards of 30,000 blankets so far.
The damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear power plant has resulted in serious concerns. The Japanese Red Cross Society remains prepared to support those evacuated from the exclusion zone, and continues to closely monitor the situation.
“The Japanese Red Cross has diligently trained over the past decade, and are able to put their training into practice by assisting the affected people,” said Tadateru Konoé, president of the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Investments in early-warning systems and disaster preparedness and other training programs, including those from the American Red Cross following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, paid off in the Pacific Basin yesterday. Red Cross societies in Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Palau and Fiji, for example, undoubtedly saved lives by alerting and evacuating residents when the tsunami warnings sounded.
To respond to the needs of those concerned about relatives in the affected regions International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is encouraging those living overseas to make use of its restoring family links web page: www.icrc.org/familylinks.
Those who want to help can go to www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.