Caritas Japan, the charity arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ), is appealing for volunteers to come forward to give a helping hand in the relief and rehabilitation programme in the aftermath of massive floods and the current heat wave in the country.
Floods followed by unprecedented heat wave
Heavy rains in southwestern Japan from late June through mid-July caused the worst floods and mudflows in over 3 decades, killing more than 200 people and disrupting transport and water supplies. This has been followed by the current heat wave that has hit a large part of the country, killing at least 44 people, with many more hospitalized.
Kumagaya, a city some 65 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, on Monday registered 41.1 degrees Celsius, the highest ever recorded in Japan since the previous high of 41°C recorded in Ekawasaki in 2013.
Earlier on July 9, Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the loss of life and those injured in the flooding.
Hiroshima and Takamatsu Dioceses
Aine Ono, an official of Caritas Japan said that the volunteer bases of the Shakyo social welfare council have been opened in many municipalities. “The affected dioceses of Hiroshima and Takamatsu are encouraging people to join the volunteer work. The volunteer work needed now is mainly mud and debris removal, which is quite difficult for both rescue workers and the volunteers in the unusual temperatures these days", Ono told the Vatican’s Fides news agency.
In the diocese of Hiroshima, that include Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures, information is being collected from each parish. The diocesan staff is joining coordination meetings with local leaders organized by the Okayama prefecture. The diocese has set up a base to receive volunteers to help clean up the houses.
Caritas Japan has planned a nation-wide fundraising campaign this week to support the relief activities.
Based on the information collected on the most urgent needs, Hiroshima Diocese is concentrating its efforts in three worst affected areas. The diocese of Takamatsu is also encouraging young parishioners to join the volunteer work through Shakyo.
Water, heat crisis
The Ministry of Health estimates that 103,400 households in west Japan are without running water and are struggling to stay cool under searing temperatures.
According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 4,500 people find themselves in evacuation centers, where access to water remains limited.
In Ehime and Okayama Prefectures alone, 3,600 volunteers worked on day one of a three day weekend to clear sand, mud and debris in high temperatures. (Source: Fides)