News Release

"Helping Hands" Project Begins in Noto Peninsula Quake-Stricken Area.  

Volunteers from Kanazawa Stake and Nagoya Mission go to help.

The Noto Peninsula earthquake, which struck the Hokuriku region on January 1st has left 232 people dead and more than 41,000 houses damaged in Ishikawa Prefecture as of January 21st, and the damage continues to grow. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, together with the Asia North Area Office, Kanazawa Stake, Nanao Branch, and Nagoya Mission, has been engaged in various humanitarian relief activities since January 4th. 

The Church, under the direction of Henry Savstrom, Director of the North Asia Area Welfare and Self-Support Services Department (Area Seventy), dispatched two staff members of the department, Brothers Jun Ochiai and Motonari Tobe, to the area on January 4th. They began exploring opportunities for relief activities with the Kanazawa Stake President's Council. Under the direction of Elder Yuichi Imai (Chairman) and Brother John Dorff (Director), Brother Akihito Suda (Specialist) was dispatched to the area, where Brother Suda reported on the situation there. Various support activities followed, as described in the January 11th newsroom article

Elder Takashi Wada, President of the Asia North Area Presidency, sent Elder Kimo Esplin (2nd Counselor) to the area. Elder Esplin visited the area on Saturday, January 13th and prepared to support the church's recovery efforts. On the following day, January 14th (Sunday), he participated in a sacrament meeting at the Nanao branch, where he spoke with the temporarily evacuated local members and offered words of comfort. 

The following is a timeline of the subsequent support situation. 

January 13th: 

The North Asia Regional Welfare and Self-Support Services Department decided to donate 10 million yen to the Nanao City Hall and 12 million yen to Second Harvest Japan (Food Bank), a non-profit organization headquartered in Tokyo. 

The Kanazawa Stake appointed President Hisao Murai (1st Counselor) as the Chairman of the Kanazawa Stake Emergency Disaster Relief Committee, and appointed Kazuya Tonami, Seijin Miyahara, Mitsuru Takase, and Kiyoko Murai as disaster response specialists. These assignments were made in accordance with the Church's Disaster Manual. 

Elder Shimizu was accompanied by his college classmate Mitsumasa Hisada, president of the NPO Aichi Volunteer Center for Disaster Relief. They visited Sanno Elementary School in Nanao City, several members of the Nanao City Council, and members of the Ishikawa Prefectural Assembly to seek service opportunities.

Brother Suda also attended meetings of the Nanao City Council of Social Welfare and the Nanao City Volunteer Center in the Yatago Community Center in Nanao City to coordinate with the Kanazawa Stake Helping Hands activities. 

January 15th: 

Brother Ochiai and Elder Shimizu visited the Nanao and Nanaka branches of the Ishikawa Prefectural Fisheries Federation. Brother Ochiai also went to Wajima City Hall to meet with workers in the "Peace Boat Disaster Relief Center.” He described the central area of Wajima City as "like the ruins of a war.” 

January 16th: 

Brother Ochiai met with officials of the Ishikawa Fishermen's Federation to discuss potential support opportunities. 

Nanao City and the Nanao City Council of Social Welfare made a request for the Church to dispatch volunteers. The request was for help in cleaning up the shelter in the Yatago Community Center from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on January 23rd and 24th. 

January 17th: 

 A request for water supply assistance was received from the Notojima Nozaki area. 

January 18th: 

Brother Suda participated in the Nanao City Disaster Volunteer Center start-up meeting. About 30 people from 13 to 14 organizations participated in the meeting and discussed the details of future volunteer activities. 

January 20th: 

In response to a request on January 17th, Elder Shimizu and Brother Miyahara from the Kanazawa Stake delivered water for daily use to the Notojima Nozaki area by two light trucks. The local people have been provided with food and drinking water.

January 23rd: 

Based on a recent request, 22 members, their friends, and full-time missionaries from Kanazawa Ward, Toyama Ward, Komatsu Ward, Takaoka Ward, Nanao Branch, and Takayama Branch units participated in a volunteer cleanup of a shelter at the Yatagoh Community Center in Nanao City. They served wearing new T-shirts with the Church's name on them. In the affected areas, the organization's name must be displayed to indicate they are official volunteers. Osaka Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (OAB) covered the situation at the shelter and these activities and aired them on the station's affiliate news at 11:30 that day. 

January 24th: 

A total of 23 people, including full-time missionaries from the Nagoya Mission and members of the Kanazawa Stake, participated in cleaning, and disinfecting the shelter at the Yatago Community Center, and setting up cardboard beds and partitions. 

That afternoon, they provided water supply support to the Notojima Nozaki area. At the district's request, Elder Shimizu and others will continue to provide water for daily use twice a week. 

January 26th: 

 Brother Ochiai and Brother Suda recognized that the needs of the evacuees had changed over the past few days from drinking water to other items and from emergency food to near-ordinary food. The Welfare and Independence Support Service Department immediately adjusted the contents of the relief supplies. 

President Nishimura (2nd Counselor, Kanazawa Stake) visited the Ishikawa Branch of the Japanese Red Cross Society and donated 40 million yen. 

President Nishimura attended a coordination meeting with the relief network of the Japan Volunteer Organizations Assisting Disaster (JVOAD) and heard reports on the overall situation in the affected areas. Four weeks have passed since the disaster, and while some groups are starting to withdraw, there are still places where evacuation centers have not received adequate food. Even in Nanao City, some evacuation centers do not have enough food. 

Brother Suda visited the Yatago District Volunteer Center and evacuation centers. They confirmed that they will start limited volunteer activities at the volunteer center, which will consist of clearing debris and cleaning up rooms. 

The North Asia Regional Welfare and Self-Support Service Department has made a comprehensive assessment of volunteer activities for this disaster and coordinated with the Kanazawa Stake and the Nagoya Mission, and although still limited, volunteer activities by missionaries and members have begun. A major step forward has been made in the recovery efforts organized within the Nagoya Coordinating Council. 

Currently, preparations to receive volunteers from other prefectures in the area have just begun. Coordination of support from outside the Nagoya Coordinating Council by the Welfare and Independence Support Services Department is still expected to take some time. The Welfare and Independence Support Service Department encourages members and units from other prefectures to support through donations to the Humanitarian Assistance Fund as in the past. 

In addition, the local community continues to request that people refrain from contacting leaders directly or sending relief supplies directly to them.

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