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kobe network

because of my research about disaster recovery, i am very fortunate to already know some of the people who were really involved with recovery after the kobe earthquake. there’s one small group who are made up of professors/community organizers/non-profits (some people wearing all of these hats!), who are involved in a number of different projects that i’ve joined in (the disaster recovery community starts to feel like everyone is connected!).

yesterday, they were having a meeting to discuss how to support tohoku. since i’m in hawaii, i wasn’t there of course, but they called me via skype. at that time, i was at my brother’s friends’ house, and my phone wasn’t working, so i sat in the office of their house, using their computer, which didn’t have a camera, and i didn’t know a way to hook up a mike, and i couldn’t type in japanese! so it was a funny skype ‘conversation’; i could hear everything that they were saying, but they couldn’t hear me. and neither could see each other. and since there was no japanese language, i had to type in romanji (which is strange for japanese people to read). but i could hear them talking, and each of their voices, and the distinctive laughs–especially of one of the professors, who has a very jolly high-pitched belly-laugh.

these are a handful of people who worked together after the kobe earthquake 16 years ago, who are close friends, who are experts and comrades in disaster recovery. they were discussing the details of the situation (they had already discussed forming a network to support tohoku), and logistics for supplies, and a reconnaissance visit.

hearing their disembodied voices, for the first time after the earthquake and tsunami, i felt comforted. as adults, we can never have that feeling of safety that only a child can feel. and after any natural disaster, there is nothing that can take it back, or change the fact that it happened. but when i listened to my japanese friends, disaster recovery experts who are ready to start doing what needs to be done for the victims of the tsunami, i feel encouraged. i really trust their actions, their instincts, their knowledge and ability. and i feel so honored and fortunate to be considered in some small way a part of their group.

i feel ready too. ready to do whatever i can. ready to be back in japan, already, even if my mom is scared for me. the work that comes next is the reason for everything i have studied until now. i can’t wait to start.

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Housing the survivors, NHK, 3/28/11

The construction of temporary housing began on Monday in disaster-stricken Miyagi prefecture.

The prefecture said that since more than 80,000 residents are taking shelter within Miyagi, it will build over 1,000 housing units in the cities of Sendai, Ishinomaki and elsewhere.

Work on the foundations for 135 emergency homes began on land owned by Ishinomaki city, where more than 25,000 residents remain in evacuation centers.

Workers laid down fresh gravel and drove pickets into the ground.

The city also began accepting applications on Saturday from people hoping to occupy these units. As more than 730 applications were filed on Saturday alone, lots are to be drawn in late April to decide who will live there.

A man who applied on Monday expressed the hope that authorities would build as many temporary housing units as possible, as the quake victims cannot stay in evacuation shelters indefinitely.

Miyagi prefecture says the units will be rent-free for up to 2 years.

Monday, March 28, 2011 15:47 +0900 (JST)

applications for temporary housing

on NHK world, today they covered the start of temporary housing.

“in iwate prefecture, the first temporary housing is being built-the exterior is already complete. these are the the first temporary houses to be built. applications started yesterday. at the jr. high school, now housing 1000, they are accepting applications in the evacuation center on sunday and monday.”

thinking about the u.s. after hurricane katrina, and the hassles and delays faced by residents to try to get a FEMA trailer, this systems seems so much better that it’s not even comparable. for victims staying in the evacuation center, having applications there is so obvious. but nothing like that EVER happened after katrina. of course, having evacuation centers close by plays a role in this.

“in Iwate Prefecture, roads are repaired, and phone lines are being installed.

200,000 people still in shelters. okuma town in fukushima, will relocate as a group to ise waka (??) city, 60 km away.

asano kato, a designer, created a project in fukushima city, where 140 children in a evacuation center,to have them create a vision for a rebuilt town, by making cardboard town model. kids enjoy it, and it encourages parents too.”

Offers of temporary housing for quake victims start in Iwate, japan times march 26, 2011

“The city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture, one of the Pacific coastal regions hardest hit by the devastating March 11 quake, started taking applications for temporary housing Saturday, becoming the first municipality to take a such step, a move toward reconstruction, in the affected areas.

Some evacuees are hinging their hopes on a chance to get away from the awkward life in shelters, while others are hesitant about taking the offer, wondering if they should continue living in their hometown that was flattened by the devastating tsunami.

‘‘We are planning to accommodate all disaster victims hoping to move in,’’ said a city official. The local government is planning to determine how many units to build after checking demand.

Rikuzentakata had a population of roughly 23,300 in about 7,800 households, according to the 2010 national census conducted by the central government before the quake.

The first applicants showed up at a counter of the municipal government office set up in a prefabricated building just past 8:30 a.m. in the morning.

A woman, 49, from the Kesen district, said her home was completely torn down by the tsunami. ‘‘I am hoping that we could get a large temporary home because we are a family of six.’’ She wishes to get a home in the same district, saying she does not want to leave the place where she is attached to after living there for years.

Seishichi Terui, 70, said his home was washed away and pleaded to a city official, saying, ‘‘I hope you will let us move into a temporary home as soon as possible.’‘

Many neighbors remain missing, he said. He evacuated to a municipal junior high school with his wife Kimiko, 64, taking with them little more than the clothes on their back. He said, ‘‘There isn’t much freedom’’ at the shelter.

People will be allowed to live in the temporary homes for up to two years.

Setsuko Kumagai, 70, who lost her home in the Hirota district, where she was living alone, was despondent. ‘‘Even if I could move in, being a pensioner, I would have difficulty making a living after I move out of the temporary housing,’’ she said.

Some elderly people who had been living alone are planning to start a new life with others. Kiyoko Kikaiwada, 77, who lost her home in the Takata district in the tsunami, wants to share a home with an 86-year-old woman friend who used to live in her neighborhood.

‘‘I would feel lonely if I have to live alone, and I would also feel anxious because my back and knees are bad,’’ she said.

Mitsuyo Sasaki, 50, who is living in a shelter with her 54-year-old husband and 9-year-old daughter, said, ‘‘We have not made up our mind yet about whether we should apply for it.’‘

She said she is attached to her neighbors and her neighborhood and is thankful for them for helping her raise her daughter. But having lost relatives in the tsunami, she said she is uneasy. ‘‘People say it’s a tsunami that only comes once every 1,000 years but I don’t feel secure even after it happened.’‘

She said she has no plans to rebuild a home where her home, which was washed away by the tsunami, had once stood.

Sasaki also expressed concerns about her daughter’s school that was also hit by the disaster. She is also worried about what would happen to her husband’s job. He has been working for a company in adjacent Ofunato city, which was also hard hit by the quake and tsunami. ‘‘I am troubled as to whether I should continue living in Rikuzentakata,’’ she said.”

Collective relocation of Fukushima residents, NHK March 26, 2011

(my comment: collective relocation is better for social cohesion; scattered relocation leads to lots of problems in the lives o evacuees, and loss of community)

“Municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture are relocating residents and administrative functions to remote areas. Many of them are located within the evacuation zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

On March 19th, Futaba Town moved its functions and the entire community to Saitama City in Saitama Prefecture.

Two other municipalities have also decided on collective relocation of administration and residents. Okuma Town plans to move to Aizu-Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture, and Naraha Town, to Aizu-Misato Town in the same prefecture.

In a similar move, Minami Soma City evacuated about 5,000 residents in groups to Niigata, Gunma, and other prefectures.
Residents of Namie Town and Hirono Town have also moved out in groups to Saitama, Tochigi, and other prefectures.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011 19:22 +0900 (JST)

nhk world

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