Japan Update 3/28/2011

Do you know what to do in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, and flood? Below is a true story on how being “Red Cross Ready” informed American Red Cross workers overseas on how to manage physically and mentally during Japan’s recent tsunami disasters.

The American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) is in the process of bringing American Red Cross service to Armed Forces staff that were affected by the tsunami on March 11th, 2011 on the northern coast of Japan. Current reports state that the Japan Meteorological Agency urged coastal residents to remain prepared to evacuate because of a continued threat of aftershocks that could spawn tsunamis. Many (SAF staff) who were directly affected are currently being evacuated but many SAF workers and their families are staying in the country to continue support for the American military troops. Ken Romero is the SAF station manager serving both the Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Camp Zama in Japan. His wife, two young children, and himself have chosen to remain in Japan.

The Atsugi and Camp Zama facilities are only a short distance from Tokyo and did not see any damage from the tsunami which caused widespread destruction in the northern end of the country.

“We are still having rolling power outages, and fuel is not always available,” Romero reported. “There are still tremors, and at night my kids sleep with us, but they are going to school. To see how the Japanese are dealing with this, accepting the situation and finding a way to make things work is encouraging.”

He described the day of the earthquake as surreal. “We are used to earthquakes here,” he said. “But this was much stronger. We could see cars shaking outside and the file cabinets in the office flew open.”

An American Red Cross SAF volunteer aids a military family as they prepare to leave Japan. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross.

When the earthquake occurred, his seven-year-old son was at school, where staff and students knew what to do because of earthquake preparedness drills. Romero described how the students covered their heads with their seat cushions and got under their desks, later venturing outside.

Romero oversees about 100 Red Cross volunteers on both military facilities and some of these volunteers and their families are returning to the United States. He and his volunteers have been proactive in making sure everyone has Red Cross preparedness information on what to do in different emergencies.
“Being Red Cross Ready has a lot more meaning now,” he said.

To learn how to be more “Red Cross Ready” please visit the following link on www.redcross.org.

Those who want to help can go to www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Gifts to the American Red Cross will support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

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