Emergency communications officer with World Vision U.S. Casey Calamusa was deployed to Japan 38 hours after the massive 8.9-magnitude quake on Friday, March 11. I chatted with Casey on Skype last night. Thanks to those of you who tweeted in questions. Here’s what he had to say:
Lindsey Talerico: 19:06:35- What did you notice when you first arrived in Tokyo?
Casey Calamusa: 19:09:13- Tokyo was not affected too badly by the quake. But the disaster is obviously on everybody’s mind. There’s also been news that a 7.0 aftershock is expected in the next few days, so that is keeping everyone on their toes.
Lindsey Talerico: 19:10:45- Knowing that an aftershock that huge is a possibility, how are the people of Japan coping with the disaster?
Casey Calamusa: 19:23:17- People certainly don’t seem hopeless; they are resilient and are determined to move forward. The World Vision staff, specifically, have tremendous faith and it’s encouraging to see them respond with such passion.
Lindsey Talerico: 19:28:24- In terms of relief response with a disaster of this magnitude, where do we even start?
Casey Calamusa: 19:35:07- It starts with an assessment team currently in Sendai–the hardest hit area. The team brought an initial supply of baby items to distribute, and will be talking with families to find out what their greatest needs are. Next, WV will have a much clearer picture of how to move forward. Back at the office, World Vision Japan is closely coordinating with other relief organizations and working with government and local authorities to see what gaps we can fill.
The Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs manager here in Japan is a veteran of disaster response, having served in Haiti last year, in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis, in Pakistan after the earthquake in ’05, and in Asia after the massive tsunami in ’04. The difference now is he is responding to a disaster in his home country.
Lindsey Talerico: 19:50:22- How does this disaster compare or contrast to last year’s quake in Haiti? Many have also compared this disaster to Hurricane Katrina. Are these fair comparisons?
Casey Calamusa: 19:56:59- Every disaster is different, which is part of what makes disaster response so difficult. In this case, Japan is a country that experiences a lot of earthquakes, has strict building codes and a strong ability to respond to these kinds of disasters. Haiti did not have any of those things. A more accurate comparison would be the Chile quake in February 2010, which was an 8.8, but because of strict building codes and a quick response by the government of Chile, there was much less loss of life.
Lindsey Talerico: 20:05:32- This question just came from a tweet: How are churches in Japan involved in the relief response?
Casey Calamusa: 20:09:46- I just talked to a WV Japan staffer about this. World Vision partners with local churches, and they appeal to their congregations to provide support for relief efforts. As well, our relief team in Sendai right now is staying at a church that we partner with.
On a personal note, I went to daily devotions with WV Japan earlier this morning. Every day the staff here gather and sing songs and spend time in prayer. It was very moving to see the whole office come together despite this time of tragedy. Many were crying, but their prayers were powerful.
Lindsey Talerico: 20:17:01- On that note, how can we be praying for those in Japan, and for aid workers working to reach those affected?
Casey Calamusa: 20:22:35- Be praying that the people who have been affected do not lose hope. Pray for a quick recovery, and especially for children, who are left to vulnerability during a time like this. Pray that aid will reach the hardest-hit areas quickly and will help the people on their path to recovery.
Lindsey Talerico: 21:26:27- Thanks, Casey. Our prayers and support are with you, the many World Vision staff and aid workers in Japan right now, and the many more who are affected. Looking forward to talking with you again soon.
For updates on World Vision’s relief response in Japan: Japan quake and tsunami updates + video
Read this post on RelevantMagazine.com
Read more from Casey on the MTV Act blog: Standing by Japan
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