Helping disabled survivors in Japan
by Mike Reynolds
for Ability Maine
 On Friday 11 March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of JapanThe epicenter was approximately 72 kilometers (45 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku, with the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km (19.9 mi).

The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 10 meters (33 ft) that struck Japan minutes after the quake, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland, with smaller waves reaching many other countries after several hours. Tsunami warnings were issued and evacuations ordered along Japan's Pacific coast and at least 20 other countries, including the entire Pacific coast of North America and South America.

As of March 22, 2011, The Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed 9,523 deaths,2,755 injured,and 16,094 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.The earthquake and tsunami caused extensive and severe structural damage in Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse.Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings. On 18 March, the International Atomic Energy Agency described the crisis as "extremely serious." Residents within a 20 km (12 mi) radius of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and a 10 km (6 mi) radius of the Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated. Several media reports have stated that a large percentage of the population was elderly and
normal supports for people with serious disabilities were difficult, if not impossible to implement. According to an interview done by John Hockenberry of the PRI show “The Takeaway” Caregivers were told they were no longer needed when many disabled people moved to the shelters setup to house survivors, the government told caregivers they were no longer needed, but thanks to the advocacy of some amazing advocates, this decision was quickly changed but soon after the quake there were several nights of freezing cold.  

There are some great organizations doing some great work despite some really difficult circumstances. Portlight Strategies  is a disability specific organization who has done work post Katrina, in Haiti and is preparing to assist in Japan. From their appeal dated March 13th.

We will provide financial assistance to Disabled People's Organizations (DPO's) working in Japan to serve people with disabilities in Japan affected by the earthquake there.

Culturally people with disabilities are particularly marginalized there. Our focus will be on supporting efforts to provide shelter and food.

We are aware of a couple of small organizations working with people with disabilities. Their efforts are difficult under the best of circumstances. The current situation will be especially challenging.

Please continue to support our efforts on behalf of those who need the most help.

You can make a contribution using the PayPal button above or at our website:


You can mail a check to:

Portlight Strategies, Inc.
60 Fenwick Hall Allee
Johns Island SC 29455

Estimates of the Tōhoku earthquake's magnitude make it the most powerful known earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

An Associated Press Article, A link to the interview on “The Takeaway, and the Portlight Strategies website.