Japan turmoil elicits response

It has been nearly three weeks since the record-breaking 9.0 Richter scale earthquake and devastating tsunami swept across the northern coast of Japan.

The earthquake left a trail of disaster in its wake, with the death toll now reaching nearly 11,000, and with over 16,000 people still labeled missing. Many families had to evacuate their homes and find shelter in temporary housing.

The news continues to publicize information about the disaster that occurred worlds away. For others, however, the disaster struck close to home.

Yasukuni Yamada, president of the Japan Society, says many of his family members were affected by the earthquake.

“My parents and brother live in Georgia,” Yamada said. “But all the rest of my family lives in Yamagata and Fukushima. I found out about what happened early on Saturday morning and I immediately called my parents. We couldn’t get in touch with my grandparents until late that night.”

Yamada was not overly frightened by the disaster and had an overall sense of well being about his family.

“I just had a feeling that they were okay. I was worried, but at the same time I knew that my family had been through many earthquakes before and they knew how to handle the situation. I just had a sense that they were fine, and I just had to wait to talk with them,” Yamada said.

His family was safe, only experiencing some damage to their house. He went on to say that he has cousins that work in the hospital in Japan, and they experienced an overwhelming flood of people from the disaster.

“Talking to them was like talking to the front lines. They saw the worst of the disaster, and my cousin said that the hospital was overflowing with people who were affected by the earthquake. So many people have had to evacuate that at this point there are not enough temporary shelters to house people. There is not enough food, water, and medical supplies for people,” Yamada said.

Although Yamada’s story is somewhat of a hopeful one, with all of his family members safe, other students have not had the same experience. The Tech Cares program, through the help of the Japan Society, has organized an event to support the relief effort for Japan.
“I hope that everyone can come out and make it to the event. If 1000 people come, and each only donates a dollar, then that is $1000 that we can send to Japan,” Yamada said.

The event called “Senbazuru” allows students to participate in learning how to fold origami cranes by only donating a dollar to the cause. Students can also donate money at http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/japan/reliefefforts.html.

Other students who were not in any way affected by the tsunami still wish for the general public to understand the pressing need to support Japan.

Riley Winton, a third-year PSYCH major, is not intimately connected to Japan, but he feels that students should continue to recognize the gravity of the situation and the disaster miles away.

“I was listening to the news the other day, and the reporter was talking about how many Americans are upset because production of new Hondas and other Japanese cars has been disrupted. Apparently, they are complaining about not getting the correct model, or color of car they wish because of the earthquake. I cannot believe that people would be so selfish to overlook the fact that this nation sits in ruins,” Winton said.

“The last thing we as Americans should be worried about is that there is a slight delay in the type of car we want. We should be focused on the disaster that has occurred, and help build back up a nation that has undergone such devastation and destruction,” Winton said.
Winton went on to express his appreciation and excitement about the event Tech Cares is hosting in relief efforts for Japan.

Both Yamada and Winton expressed that everyone who is able should participate and give to the cause to help rebuild a nation that has endured such an extensive disaster.

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