Surveying the Damage, Making a Plan

We arrived at Hakata Christ Church in Fukuoka at 4 am, and after a short rest, gathered for an early morning breakfast and meeting before heading on the road.

Group picture in front of truck before heading on the road
Traffic was horrendous, bottle-necked by closed expressways. It took over 4 hours to reach Harvest Church in downtown Kumamoto, which had opened doors to be a gathering place for supplies and information.
Unloading supplies from our truck
Organizing supplies at Harvest Church in Kumamoto

Fukuda-san confirming destination with locals
We made a plan and headed around the city in two groups, seeing damage along the way: Cracked roads and sidewalks, broken glass, collapsed fences and buildings, and fallen kawara (clay roof tiles). The most symbolic destruction were the fallen walls of Kumamoto Castle, one of the top three castles in Japan.
Fallen wall blocking road
This apartment building fell by one floor, crushing cars beneath. The earthquake happened in the middle of the night when everyone was home. I can't imagine trying to flee from a falling building...

Another apartment building that fell one floor
Fallen wall around Kumamoto Castle
Fallen wall and tower around Kumamoto Castle
Broken entranceway
“People are scared,” Minami-san told us, leading a shelter of 300 at Kumamoto Keiryo Junior High School. His voice was barely audible from constant talking and yelling. “They don’t feel safe in their homes at night, and come here looking for rest and sleep.” As he was talking, a medium-sized tremor shook the ground, rattling windows around us. “Everyone away from the glass!” he yelled in a cracked voice, and everyone did.

Once calm was restored, we continued. “What are your biggest needs?” we asked. “We do not need supplies. We need ways to calm people. He talked about exercise programs and other ideas, but lit up when he heard I was a musician. “Yes, THAT is what is we need most right now!” It was very moving for me to hear him say that. In a disaster, people need food, water, and shelter. They need clothes to stay warm. But people also need art and music!

Deciding what to do next. More to follow...
Sunday night April 17 outside Kumamoto Keiryo Junior High (Photo by Minami-san)