In the wake of the recent deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture, the Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about how to send relief supplies to the disaster-hit areas.
Question: Is there any downside to sending supplies?
Answer: In the past, there have been cases where supplies sent after an earthquake disaster have become a major burden for local municipal employees, who had to sort through a deluge of goods.
Yu Hamada, 50, head of the secretariat of Nagoya-based NPO Rescue Stock Yard, which supports disaster victims, comments, "The lack of supplies (after a disaster) isn't due to a shortage of goods, but because transportation and lifelines are cut, which keeps goods from arriving. If supply routes are re-established, many supplies should arrive from businesses and local governments. By the time things from private individuals arrive, the disaster area's needs may have changed. The basic rule is to send what is asked for."
Q: What is needed now?
A: On its website, the Kumamoto Municipal Government is asking for drinking water, dried rice and sanitary goods for people expected to remain in shelters for long periods.
Q: How can I send supplies?
A: As of April 18, many of Japan's major delivery companies have temporarily suspended deliveries to Kumamoto Prefecture. However, local governments outside of disaster areas sometimes act as intermediaries for delivering supplies. The city of Fukuoka, for example, has started accepting diapers, sanitary goods, toilet paper, towels, blankets and bottled water from residents. The city government will deliver the goods, as needed, to disaster-hit areas. People wanting to send goods should check with their local municipal government.
Q: Is there anything to be careful of when sending supplies?
A: Packing only one type of item per box, sending boxes of equal size and attaching photos of the boxes' contents will reduce the workload of workers in the disaster areas.
Q: How else can I help?
A: Donations to trustworthy NPOs or other organizations is another meaningful form of support. It is important to know what is needed before sending aid. (Answers by Yuri Hirabayashi, Regional News Department)