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Thursday 24 March 2011

Families grateful for ShelterBox Solution in Japan
Families grateful for ShelterBox Solution in Japan ShelterBox tents being used to house tsunami-survivors in the town of Nagahama, Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on Thursday, 24th March, 2011. Photograph: Mark Pearson

Earlier today ShelterBox tents were set up for families in desperate need in the tsunami-hit Iwate Prefecture of Japan.

The ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) have been working with the local authorities to bring emergency shelter to families who lost their homes in the tsunami.

Hashimoto-san, a local politician from the Iwate Prefecture who has lent his expertise and local network to help ShelterBox’s efforts in the country, said: ‘It’ll be up to three months before temporary housing can be made available to those displaced by the tsunami.

‘Many individuals who have been forced to choose between crowded displacement centres or dependence on the hospitality of friends and neighbours will prefer the independence and privacy afforded by the ShelterBox solution.

‘We hope ShelterBox can support us with the quantities required in a timely fashion to make this possible. The displaced were concerned about the long wait ahead before the completion of government temporary housing and are relieved and grateful for the solution ShelterBox has provided.

‘In this season freezing winds blow across the coastlines and the opportunity to remain near their homes yet avoid discomfort is being gratefully seized by the affected families.’

It is now nearly two weeks since Japan was rocked by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded and a devastating tsunami. According to OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) more than 24,000 people are feared dead or missing and more than a quarter of a million people are still living in evacuation centres. Large aftershocks continue to strike off Japan’s coast and this, alongside heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures and a severe lack of fuel is creating huge challenges for the aid effort.

‘It’s the most complex disaster scenario I ever had to deal with and this includes the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake,’ said ShelterBox Field Operations Specialist Mark Pearson. ‘As we continue to assess the affected areas we found 60 people living in their cars who now all want a ShelterBox tent.

‘A request has been made and now those who want a ShelterBox can collect them from our shared warehouse owned by Rotarian Tamura-san. Tamura-san chose to fill the gap left by major aid and governmental agencies by collecting supplies from his business and personal networks around the country and distributing directly to smaller displacement centres and overlooked communities.’

ShelterBox were on the ground in Japan less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck and since then have been working around the clock to provide to help the families affected by the disaster.

ShelterBox Founder and CEO, Tom Henderson said: ‘Our Response Team in Japan are doing outstanding work in extreme conditions. We’ve been operating autonomously and self-sufficiently since day one of the disaster.

‘We’re being very proactive in our response and, equally, have found the Japanese government very effective in coping with the situation. Given the sheer scale of the disaster, we are on hand with the ShelterBox solution to help the Japanese government to fill any gaps in the response.’

The team are currently based in Morioka in the Iwate Prefecture working with Rotarians and the local authorities. In the coming days they also plan to be working with Rotary clubs in and around Sendai to bring emergency supplies to families in the Miyagi Prefecture who lost everything in the tsunami.

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