Four Years After Devastating Japan Tsunami, Hope is Being Revived

Posted by Jackie on Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reflecting back upon his life in the months following 3/11, Mr. Kato, a business owner in the fishing village of Onagawa, Japan, can sum up his situation in one, all-encompassing word: “hopeless”.

3/11 marks the date – March 11, 2011 – that a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the largest recorded disaster in Japan’s history, struck the country’s coastline, wiping out entire towns, destroying livelihoods, and taking nearly 16,000 lives in its path, including those of Mr. Kato’s beloved wife and child.

Kato also lost his livelihood, a thriving Korean barbeque restaurant in the heart of Onagawa’s commercial district, one of thousands of businesses that suffered the economic impact of what is now considered the costliest disaster in the history of the world. Within a few minutes of the tsunami’s impact, nearly 128,000 buildings collapsed and approximately 748,000 buildings were damaged.

Unable to work, for months, Kato wept over his losses in a state of emotional shock. But with the relentless encouragement of a friend and key partner of The Salvation Army, Mr. Aoyama, Kato eventually found the strength and determination to start a new restaurant at the temporary shopping mall constructed by The Salvation Army.

This shopping center, the first to be constructed in the badly damaged town, was funded by caring, generous donors who gave through The Salvation Army World Service Office. In addition to providing shop owners like Mr. Kato with employment and boosting the local economy, the shopping center has also been a source of community, fellowship and comfort for citizens and survivors.

Mr. Kato’s outlook has since changed stating recently, “This project gives me hope”.

Reviving hope in the hearts of the downtrodden is one of the goals of The Salvation Army, and Mr. Kato’s story is one of many heard from individuals who have been restored and strengthened thanks to supporters of The Salvation Army’s global disaster relief services.

Known in Japan as Kyuu-Sei-Gun (Save-World-Army), The Salvation Army’s unique 120-year history in Japan allows local knowledge and insight. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the local Salvation Army Corps opened their doors to provide food and shelter to survivors while mobile kitchens traveled from shelter to shelter to share hot meals and words of comfort with those who were suffering. The Salvation Army also provided heaters and other essential items to help elderly citizens and families prepare for a harsh winter in their temporary homes.

In addition to the shopping center, The Salvation Army World Service Office supported Onagawa’s local fisherman’s union – the lifeblood of the community – by providing vehicles, equipment and boats to be prepared for the upcoming fishing season, as well as helping local schools and neighborhoods with equipment and supplies to better prepare for future disasters. Similar efforts were established in other hard-hit coastal towns, such as Ofunato and Mininamisanriku.

Four years later, The Salvation Army World Service Office and The Salvation Army in Japan continue to work hand-in-hand with these communities to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly, are being cared for during the long and difficult transition from relief to rebuilding lives and restoring communities.

All of this work is made possible by donors and supporters, for whom we give thanks, enabling The Salvation Army to be an ever-present flame of hope and relief during times of disaster and beyond.

For more information on our disaster relief services around the world, or to show your support, visit
This post was contributed by The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO)

“Daddy’s Home” comic strip raises awareness for Hurricane Sandy relief

Check out the comics section in today’s paper and you might see the latest from the acclaimed comic strip, “Daddy’s Home,” which highlights the still very present need in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The comic portrays the iconic Star Jet roller coaster sitting in the ocean in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, perhaps one of the most famous and enduring images from Hurricane Sandy’s devastating sweep along the East Coast last November.

“I want people to be aware that there’s still work to do,” said Tony Rubino, creative director of the syndicated comic alongside illustrator, Gary Markstein, who directs readers to The Salvation Army’s website (

Eight months later, there is indeed a lot to be done for impacted residents. The Salvation Army continues to provide long-term assistance and disaster case management to help survivors find resources for rebuilding their damaged homes, while also providing financial assistance and referral services to residents in the hardest hit areas of Staten Island, Queens and Long Island.

If you would like to make a donation or commitment to volunteer with The Salvation Army, please visit
A huge thank you to Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein for supporting our Emergency Disaster Services!

Salvation Army unveils new canteen in Joplin

By Ryan Richardson Joplin Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Salvation Army of Joplin rolled out a new $100,000 mobile canteen Tuesday that will help provide disaster relief to area residents and could be used for future relief efforts across the country.

The mobile canteen is equipped to serve 1,500 meals per day and will be stationed in Joplin. In the past, the Joplin Salvation Army shared a canteen with Springfield and Branson.

During the dedication for the vehicle, Salvation Army Lt. James Curry said that the vehicle will help increase the reach of the Joplin Salvation Army.

“When the May 22 tornado hit Joplin, Pittsburg’s unit showed up quickly without being called in that night,” Curry said. “That’s the kind of reach that we want to have in other communities. We want a unit to be able to help not only in disasters, but to be able to feed and help those who are hungry. This vehicle gives us that opportunity.”

Joplin’s canteen will join a fleet of 14 other mobile canteens stationed in Missouri. Each canteen is equipped with two microwaves that can be converted in to full-size ranges, a refrigerator, a three-sink cleaning area and several stacks of warming trays for hot meals. There is also a powered generator, propane access and water on the truck.

“We can load a hot meal in here and six hours later and they can still be ready to roll out,” Curry said. “Those can be ready to be rolled out while we are cooking other meals here. We’re equipped to be full service here to get those meals out to people in their time of need.”

During the May 22, 2011 tornado, the Salvation Army served more than 10,000 meals in a two-week period following the storm. City officials celebrated the efforts of the Salvation Army since the tornado and commemorated the dedication of the canteen with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce spoke on behalf of the city.

“Anything that helps the Salvation Army do more is something that can benefit every community they are in,” Scearce said. “I’m still amazed by what they have done and what they will do.”

The mobile unit was donated by Beacon Roofing Supply — which operates in Joplin as RSM Supply — as a continued partnership with the Salvation Army over the past six years. Peter Lippert, who represented Beacon, said it was the third mobile canteen that the company has donated.

“Our company has similar values as the Salvation Army and that is why we have continued to work with them in communities across the country,” Lippert said. “We value our employees and their families and it is our goal to take keep their values and needs taken care of. That is how the Salvation Army treats their communities. They are always there for them during times of need.”

Salvation Army Advisory Board member Dave Evans said that the van will be an asset to the surrounding area because of the shorter response time to Jasper County residents.

“It is a tremendous asset to us to have this here because Jasper County has the highest annual average of tornadoes,” Evans said. “We can be on the ground and responding as quickly as possible to people in our own backyard. This is possible because of donations and we’re happy to be here to celebrate what Beacon Roofing could with us today.”

Salvation Army serves Carnival Triumph Passengers and Families

carnical triumphThe Carnival Triumph cruise ship and its 4,229 passeners have finally made it to port in Mobile, AL after an engine room fire caught four days ago.  Reports indicate the crew and passengers suffered through horrific conditions during what was intended to be a luxurious four day getaway.

The Salvation Army joined passengers’ friends and family at port as they waited for their loved ones.  Salvation Army staff provided food, beverages, and comfort to the crowd.

Major Mark Brown of The Salvation Army’s Coastal Alabama Area Command described the event stating “Each of these families are awaiting the assurance that their loved ones are safe and secure. We can only imagine the anxiety each must be experiencing. We pray that our presence can be a source of hope and calm amidst their concern.”

For updates on The Salvation Army’s disaster services, visit