28 Days On – A Report From The Ground
Today’s report will consist of writing and photographs from Peace Boat staff member Ueno Yoshinori who went to Ishinomaki one week after the quake.
All electricity, gas and water infrastructure was destroyed in Ishinomaki. There are absolutely no light sources after sunset. Three weeks have passed since Peace Boats’ relief efforts locally began.
One month on from the quake, some areas have electricity running again, but the former center of town and the coastal areas remain without. This complete lack of electricity makes cooking to provide meals very difficult, especially at night.
The Self-Defence Forces are averaging 8000 meals per day, and the NGO/NPO sector is managing to provide 12,000 to 20,000 meals per day to the affected people. This may sound like a lot, but it is nowhere near enough.
Ishinomaki City had a population of 180,000. There were 128,000 houses in the center of town, out of which 80,000 homes have either been completely or more than partially destroyed by the tsunami. The debris and mus dredged up from the sea bed during the tsunami is proving to be the major factor that is impeding relief efforts. Therefore, a major part of volunteer work is the removal of mud and debris from the inside of homes and buildings which are still standing.
The local municipality has joined forces with the network of NGOs and NPOs working in Ishinomaki to establish the ‘Ishinomaki City Relief Work Committee’. What was only 20 or so volunteers three weeks ago is now a large local network of more than 40 civil society organizations. Information is shared in regular meetings and the ever-changing needs and criteria of work are discussed and established. Also, sending out soup kitchens and relief goods to the more remote areas is coordinated within this framework.
On the night of April 5, Peace Boat representative Yamamoto Takashi met with Mayor Kameyama of Ishinomaki City, also joined by representative of AP Bank Japan, Kobayashi Takeshi. Below please find photo reportage (coming shortly).