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Area people, agencies reach out to help relief efforts in Japan

Post by Mike Archbold on March 16, 2011 at 11:47 am with No Comments »
March 16, 2011 4:40 pm

South Sound and area residents and agencies are helping with relief efforts in Japan following Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

We will post those efforts as we find out about them:

• A C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane and crew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord helped transport 107.5 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as personnel to Japan over the weekend.

The local crew joined with a C17 from Travis Air Force Base on two missions Friday to the stricken island nation as part of Operation Tomodachi, according to Adamarie Lewis, media chief for the 62nd Airlift Command based at McChord.

Operation Tomodachi, which means friend in Japanese, is a U.S. Armed Forces sponsored disaster relief assistance effort the wake of the Sendai earthquake last week.

Lewis said the airlift wing at McChord is on standby and probably will be called on again to help with ongoing relief and humanitarian efforts in Japan.

Over the weekend, she said the McChord crew of three pilots and two load masters with the 4th Airlift Squadron flew to Travis Air Force Base in California. They transported 31.5 tons of cargo from Los Anegles to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan.

Two KC10-Extenders – air-to-air refueling tankers – flew  with the C17s to refuel them over the Pacific to help speed the transport of goods.

•  Washington Task Force 1, an Urban Search and Rescue Team made up of Pierce and King county first responders, has been advised that it is 5th on the list of the nation’s 28 teams that could  be deployed to Japan to help with relief efforts.

There are already two teams in Japan – from Fairfax, Va., and Los Angeles County. They left Friday.

“They are thinking their chances of going are very thin,” said Sheri Badger a spokeswoman with the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, “mostly because we are a search and rescue team.”

As the days pass, search and rescue turns into more of a recovery, she said.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t do recovery,” she said. “Recovery is not their primary mission but they do have tools to do that.”

Badger said the 120 team members which include firefighters, police, public works specialists and physicians have been advised. If called up,  they have four hours to be ready to deploy, she said.

The team members come from more than 30 agencies in the two counties.

The Washington team has been sent to the the Oklahoma City bombing, the  World Trade Center attack and the Katrina hurricane, Badger added.

• An emergency room nurse from St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor is making her way north in Japan  to offer her medical skills where they can best be used..

Tamara Alverez, 30, from Gig Harbor, flew Monday to Tokyo as part of a two-person forward operating team for Empact Northwest, an organization that provides medical help during disasters.

In an e-mail to her father Bruce Smith in Port Orchard, she said the Japanese government is welcoming self-sufficient non-governmental organization like Empact Northwest into the affected areas.

“Relief need are currently overshadowed by cocnerns with nuclear radiation,’ she wrote. “We have the skill set and willingness to go and assist in northern Japan and they have the need.” She said they plan to take a train north along the west coast, bypassing the evacuated areas and then take  a bus in to the hard-hit Miyaga region.

Smith said his daughter spent 10 days working in Haiti after the earthquake there. He expects her to return home in about a week.

Another two-person team from the agency is leaving soon for Japan.

•  Tacoma Community College international students  raised $3,700 by the end of the day  toward their goal of $10,000 to send to earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan via the American Red Cross.

The fundraiser will continue through the end of this week. A local company has agreed to provide matching  funds  up to $5,000, according to a college official.

The effort started Friday morning.

Tacoma Community College international students from Japan staff fundraising table on campus. From left, Saki Kihara, Ami Yoshimura, Rina Tamaki,Takashi Fujimoto and KenjiSasakura.

Annemarie Martin, who coordinates TCC’s Short-Term Iternational programs, said five students manning the fundraising table Tuesday were from TCC’s sister school, Kitykiushu University. Martin said Kitykiushu was not affect by the disaster,

• Allison Stephens from Tacoma who organizes children and maternity consignment events with a Seattle woman will raise money for Japanese relief at her next Just Between Friends event April 1-3.

She will be selling $1 raffle tickets for a gift certificate with all proceeds going to the the Rainier Chapter of the American Red Cross. A portion of the admissions fees to the event which will be held at the Puyallup Fair & Events Center Expo Hall also will be donated to the Red Cross.

•  Medical Teams International with offices in Seattle and Portland is raising money to help four partners in Japan buy and truck in safe drinking water to areas affected by the disasters.

“We can best help the Japanese people at this time by providing water, food and money and other items needed for survival,” said Joe DiCarlo, director of international programs for Medical Teams International, in a news release today.

“We cannot send in medical teams because Japan requires in-country medical licensing. So, we are doing what we can to ensure the health of people by providing the water, food and other items they need to survive at this time.”

Partners on the scene which include churches and Christian nonprofits are establishing five bases of operation to provide lifesaving help to survivors in five Japanese regions: Fukushima, South Sendai, North Sendai, Minami Sanrikucho and Morioka, Hachinohe, according to Medical Teams International spokeswoman Marlene Minor.

To support Medical Teams International’s efforts, visit or call 1-800-959-4325.

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