Relief Efforts

I was able to participate in relief efforts coordinated by churches and city organizations in the city of Centerville, Utah raising funds to help in assisting those in Japan. It was held at one of the local parks. They had a huge yard sell with selling pretty much anything! I was glad to be able to be doing something since I felt so helpless, as I couldn’t be there physically in assisting my Japanese neighbors during this difficult time.   Throughout that event over $14,000 was raised to help the people of Japan. It was great being a part of relief efforts half way across the globe.

The military began Operation Tomadachi (which means “friend” in Japanese) alongside Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) in providing equipment and supplies to various earthquake and tsunami ravaged areas. Due to the damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-chi power plant, the U.S. military had authorized the start of voluntary evacuation of family members from bases in mainland Japan to safe haven areas in the United States. We could have sent our daughters back to the states, but we decided that they were needed there more to help support my husband during this time. With all of the relief efforts and being the acting GM, my husband was coordinating efforts with the base commanders in support of obtaining supplies for the Misawa community. He had explained to me that right after the earthquake since there was no power, they had to supply customers at the Shoppette who needed basic essential items by using flashlights and making manual receipts with pen and paper. In addition, the base gas station had to initially ration the amount of fuel customers were receiving to ensure they had enough and urging people to use other modes of transport when necessary to conserve what fuel reserves they did have.

Many relief efforts began with various places on the base. Many collections of numerous items such as hygiene and household items, clothing, and nonperishable foods had begun. The base had filled the high school gym with donations which were organized and delivered to areas close to Sendai where there was fairly extensive damage. One organization, Misawa Helps is a volunteer organization where Airmen give their time and energy to work alongside civilians, dependents, joint service members and Japan Self-Defense Forces in areas requesting assistance. My husband and children were able to participate in those efforts. They went to the port city of Hachinohe removing fishing nets and cleaning debris from the area. It is so amazing to hear of all the collaborative efforts among the agencies in working together to help this beautiful country my family has been afforded the opportunity in living in. It just devastates me to see so many people displaced by this awful tragedy and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones.

Japan’s Devastation

I bounced back from surgery fairly quickly and was back working out in the gym the next day after I saw my surgeon for post op. I was so glad to finally be back in the gym and that felt like the most awesome workout! I think the reason that I bounced back so quickly is the fact that I have been so active prior to the surgery.

The next day was really hard for me…….I had to put my husband back on the plane to Japan as he needed to get back to work. I was left behind once again!

The day that my husband left was on March 3, 2011 and then later the following week on March 11, 2011, was the 9.0 magnitude Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan! That day was the same day as my mother’s birthday; she will now have to share her birthday with Japan’s devastation.   My husband and daughters lived through and survived that nightmare! I was getting ready to go to the gym when my dad said “You need to look at this” where on his computer screen was the news article about the Earthquake and Tsunami. I was frantically trying to dial my family in Japan. It was a sheer miracle that I was able to get through as most of all the cell towers went down. They were sitting in our house with no lights, no heat but were with each other. I had just talked with my husband about an hour previous to the earthquake hitting! I prayed that they would be kept safe.   It was such a good thing that before I left I had just ensured that our emergency kit was up-to-date and available to use.

Watching the videos on the news is just so horrible what everyone is experiencing right now. At least my family was not located near the epicenter in Sendai, which had extensive damage to the area and is located approximately four hours from where we live. Jerome was the acting GM for the Exchange during this time, as his boss was on leave. Our daughters were at the Exchange at the time that the Earthquake hit. Jerome quickly had everyone evacuated from the building. The community of Misawa came to be a Command Center where the Relief teams were centered. This is such a sad situation for this beautiful country. However, at least they are not a poverty stricken nation like Haiti and I think that they will have the means to rebuild. I think that this is harder being separated from my family than going through the surgery. I have really come to appreciate all that is precious to me – my family!