Japan: Making Survivors’ Lives More Comfortable

Improving Conditions in Evacuation Centers and Temporary Housing

Many survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake continue to live under uncertain conditions in shelters and temporary housing. AAR JAPAN has been undertaking efforts to make their lives as comfortable as possible in the hot and humid summer, as well as preparing for the severity of the coming winter.

(The efforts outlined below have been supported through donations from HOPE FOR JAPAN.)

Improving Sanitation in the Heat of Summer
The rainy season came to the disaster zone 4 months after the earthquake, in the middle of July. Futons and blankets used in shelters had not been washed or dried since March, and some damp tatami (straw floor mats) became moldy and were infested with ticks. The rising temperature also brought out a large number of flies and mosquitoes that led to a further deterioration in sanitary conditions.

AAR JAPAN visited Ishinomaki City and Minami-Sanriku Town in Miyagi Prefecture to conduct sanitation improvement activities. With the cooperation of survivors living in shelters, we cleaned the shelters and removed futons and cardboard boxes that had not been moved since the earthquake. Then we collected dirty futons and handed out new summer blankets, as well as providing futon drying machines and dehumidifiers.  

AAR JAPAN also provided insecticide, set up mosquito screens and nets, provided refrigerators to preserve food, and set up blinds to block out direct sunlight where needed. Some survivors living in shelters told us that drying machines for futons would be very useful, as they had not been able to dry their futons in the sun since the earthquake. They also complained that, while the city had provided insecticide, the quantity had been insufficient, and not everyone was able to receive any. “We really appreciate that AAR JAPAN has provided the resources we need when we need them,” they said. We’re glad to have been able to contribute to making survivors’ living environments even a little more comfortable.

Preparing for Winter in Temporary Housing
In September, AAR JAPAN provided heaters to survivors in temporary housing on the Oshika Peninsula, part of Ishinomaki City. Some survivors said that they had been worrying about how they would get through the coming winter given the short supply of heaters in the area. In order to ease their concerns, AAR JAPAN provided heaters to 80 families in shelters in Ayukawahama, an area where many elderly people live.

Residents of temporary housing chose a leader to coordinate with AAR JAPAN for the distribution of the heaters. We hope that the establishment of a community leader will encourage the survivors to continue to work together to get through this difficult time.  

Through these efforts, AAR JAPAN provided emergency supplies to a total of 965 people in 9 shelters from July 13th to September 7th. AAR JAPAN will continue our efforts to support survivors and enable them to live healthier and warmer lives during the coming winter.

July 20th – The second floor of this storehouse gets hot in the daytime, and it doesn’t cool down even at night. This blind will help block the sunlight during the day. With Moeko NAGAI (left) of AAR JAPAN.

July 20th – Mizuho SEKII (right) of AAR JAPAN provides insecticides to shelters on the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture.

September 7th – “I was told that I would have to wait 3 months to get a heater. Now I have a heater already, and I think I’ll be fine for the winter.” With Erika SAITO of AAR JAPAN (back left) in Ayukawahama, Ishinomaki City.

Erika SAITO, AAR JAPAN Sendai Office
Has been working on medical assistance projects in AAR JAPAN’s Sendai Office since April 2011.