First let me say that the news coming out of Japan is likely to get worse before it gets better. I know that’s heartbreaking to hear as the people there have already suffered so greatly. But the reality of the situation is overwhelming. Just to highlight a few of the humanitarian challenges:
- Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has raised the alert level at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from four to five on a seven-point international scale for atomic accidents.
- The number of officially missing stands at more than 12,000 lives and rising
- The number of confirmed deaths stands at close to 10,000 and is expected to rise dramatically
- Approximately 373,000 homes are without electricity and 1.8 million homes are still without water
In the midst of this epic disaster in Japan, progress is beginning to happen. Vital infrastructures such as airports and seaports are being repaired. The Sendai airport, which was submerged by the tsunami, is now open to emergency vehicles, airplanes and helicopters. The number of people in evacuation centers has decreased from 450,000 two nights ago to 390,000 overnight.
While slight improvements are happening on some fronts, recovery for the country of Japan will take years. Each of us who are helping today will be a part of that recovery process for the Japanese people. And please know that they appreciate your support. Last Friday, an official with the Japanese Red Cross sent us these words to share with all of you:
“The compassion the American people have demonstrated over the past week through their generous support to the American Red Cross is incredibly uplifting at a time when we are dealing with such an immense humanitarian tragedy. This financial support is very much needed and continues to be welcomed to help the hundreds of thousands of lives that will forever be changed by this disaster.”
While our teams here at the Red Cross are working around the clock to help the people of Japan, we’re also responding to single and multi-unit apartment fires across the local area. Just this weekend, we helped 12 families who burned out in a Lewisville apartment fire along with seven families who lost their homes one at a time. Typically, we help an average of three families every day. You can help us take care of these local families too!
On Saturday, March 26, 2011 we will host our first-ever “Roll Call at the Crescent” event to highlight the amazing 100 years that the Dallas Area Chapter has been responding locally. A handful of tickets are still available for the event so we’re encouraging you to come out and join us and support local relief efforts right here at home too.
On behalf of every volunteer and staff member at the American Red Cross, we thank you for the many ways in which you’re helping the people of Japan and those who need you here at home. It is heartwarming to be surrounded by so many people who know that humanity begins at home, and spreads wherever it needs to be. Until our next update, I wish you nothing but the best.