There are no videos or pictures that can adequately capture the power of devastation after Japan’s triple mega-disaster: the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. When the tsunami struck, the Fuel Relief Fund team immediately responded. At the scene, the team witnessed absolute destruction. Huge piles of rubble were everywhere – remnants of homes, walls, roofs, mattresses, toys, furniture, and photos were scattered as far as the eye could see. Survivors were left without power.
Temperatures were below freezing when the FRF team arrived to the scene of the tsunami, creating a desperate need fuel to help keep people warm. After discussions and analysis of the situation, FRF and Japanese government agencies agreed that free heating oil would make a substantial impact and help meet immediate needs of affected populations for warmth.
Many Japanese families do not heat their entire home. People often purchase kerosene to fuel portable heaters which they move from room to room to stay warm during winter months. For this reason, most families own a 5-gallon fuel can. Based on available resources and discussions with local leaders, FRF decided to provide 2.5 gallons of free heating oil to individuals in the communities residing in the devastated coastline.
The FRF team traveled from town to town and to multiple shelters providing free heating oil. People stood in lines in the freezing rain, snow and wind waiting for hours for the heating oil. The lines were made up of professionals, laborers, mothers and children, grandparents, and business owners – all waiting patiently in line for hours just for 2.5 gallons of heating oil. The team was overwhelmed by how appreciative, polite, and patient the Japanese were as they waited in the cold to receive just 2.5 gallons of kerosene. We were grateful for the tremendous support of our donors that made this important relief effort possible.