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Reigniting the joy of service: Flood relief in Japan

Volunteers carry supplies together

Key Points

  • Tropical Storm Etau struck eastern Japan in early September, compounding the effects of already heavy rainfall. The storm caused levee failures, river overflow, massive flooding, and hundreds of landslides in Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Miyagi Prefectures. The region suffered nearly $100 million in damages, seven fatalities, and extensive displacement, with over 18,000 homes flooded and around 3,000 people in evacuation shelters.
  • Embracing The World (ETW) volunteers, along with participants from the Japanese student volunteer organization IVUSA, responded swiftly to the disaster in Joso, one of the severely affected cities. Drawing on their experience in previous disaster relief efforts, including those in India, the teams established a tented kitchen in a park surrounded by flood wreckage. They prepared and distributed 500 meals, bringing relief to flood victims who had not had access to hot food since the onset of the flooding.
  • Volunteer teams, organized in groups of 10, visited flooded houses in Joso. Despite challenging conditions with muddy waters still present, the teams assisted in relocating furniture, appliances, tatami mats, and other household items to drier areas. The enthusiastic and compassionate service provided not only improved the physical circumstances of the flood victims but also brought warmth and smiles to their faces amid the challenging situation
19 September 2015
Main topic
Disaster Relief
Related topics
Disaster Relief Humanitarian

Following more than a week of rains in early September, Tropical Storm Etau could not have hit eastern Japan at a worse time. On September 9th,Etau began to further inundate the already rain-soaked terrain north of Tokyo – dumping as much as 2 more feet (65 cm) of rain in 24 hours in some areas. The storm finally caused levees to fail and rivers to overflow their banks, leading to massive flooding and hundreds of landslides. By September 12, the flooding had ravaged Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Miyagi Prefectures, causing nearly US $100 million of damage across the entire region and killing seven people. Over 18,000 homes were flooded, and nearly 3000 people still remain in evacuation shelters.

Volunteers chop carrots

Our volunteers immediately arrived on the scene in Joso, one of the hardest hit cities. Additional volunteers also arrived from the Japanese student volunteer organization, IVUSA, many of whom had already worked with us in India on our disaster relief programs in Uttarakhand, Nagapattinam, and Pune. They quickly rekindled the joyous spirit in which they had previously served in India, and their enthusiasm for helping others even managed to bring smiles to the faces of the flood survivors as well. Manning a tented kitchen in a park encircled by flood wreckage, the combined teams of Embracing The World and IVUSA teams cooked some 500 meals of Japanese soup and rice for lunch and Indian curry for dinner for the displaced flood victims. Most of the meal recipients reported that our meals were the first hot food they had eaten since the flooding began many days earlier.

Volunteers serve soup

In teams of 10, the volunteers visited Joso’s flooded houses. Muddy waters often still filled these homes, so the ETW-IVUSA teams moved furniture, appliances, tatami mats, and other household items to drier places. Our volunteers’ enthusiastic and compassionate service not only improved the physical circumstances of the flood victims, but also warmed the hearts and lit the faces of those victims as well.

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