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).
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
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
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
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: www.portlight.org
You can mail a check to:
Portlight Strategies, Inc.
60 Fenwick Hall Allee
Johns Island SC 29455
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
An Associated Press Article, A link to the interview on “The Takeaway, and the Portlight Strategies website.