Emergency VM Disaster Response for Japan Floods
- The island nation of Japan is approximately the same size as California, with a population of 127 million—the world’s tenth largest.
- Japan has experienced 35 earthquakes and volcanic eruptions just in the last two decades.
- In 2017, VMs provided life-saving assistance to over 200,000 people in disaster response sites.
- Nearly 700 people a week start an online course at volunteerministers.org.
On the 5th of July torrential rains struck western Japan, triggering fatal landslides and causing heavy flooding.
With a death toll of over 200 and dozens missing, it is one of the deadliest natural disasters to affect the country since the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
The flooding and landslides were so severe that disaster response authorities deployed more than 70,000 responders to the area for search and rescue operations. Two million people were evacuated from their homes.
Thanks to an IAS grant, immediate support has been provided for disaster relief, enabling the VMs to travel to the disaster zones and provide operational costs and supplies to keep them there.
Since mobilizing, the team of Volunteer Ministers have been going to evacuation sites and shelters, delivering assists to those traumatized or injured by the flooding and landslides.
They are also delivering workshops to the local communities to train them on assist tech, thereby expanding the number of people providing help. A group of highschool students started appearing every day to volunteer with the VMs to help organize the supplies and provide assists in the shelters.
One gentleman came to the VMs and requested an assist. He said he remembered hearing about the “assist” 23 years ago when the devastating Kobe earthquake hit Japan and VMs had come to his city. He recalled the help they brought and he was very happy to have found the VMs again and be able to receive the assist.
A man who came to one of the shelters saw the VMs in action and became interested to learn what they were doing. After seeing how the VMs helped with assists and disaster relief, he said “It’s amazing to have such people. People with such knowledge are vital to our community as there are many things we do not know. For example, sometimes people cannot sleep in the evacuation centers and they will take the medicine being distributed, but that’s not right—it’s not good for them and it has become a habit. It’s encouraging to have people like you who have more knowledge.”
The VMs have developed a great relationship with city officials and local communities. A city official in Takaoka City took commemorative photos with the VMs to promote their activities on social media and thanked the VMs for their support. Authorities have requested for more VMs to be sent to the disaster area and volunteers from other organizations say they want to join the “team of people with the yellow shirts.”