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.