Disaster Commodity Donation to Alabama from Japan

Report from the Field: Maxwell AFB, ISB, Alabama Tornado Disaster, DR – 1971

After the recent tornado disaster in Alabama, IEM supported federal disaster logistics operations as a member of the disaster response teams stationed at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL, ISB (Incident Support Base). The process during this mission involved tracking over 500, 53 foot semi-trailer loads of relief goods, such as water, MREs, ice, and tarps. As part of the mission, at a local trucking facility near Maxwell AFB emergency relief supplies to support the response efforts were cross-docked from private carriers to DHS/FEMA trailers. Two of the private carrier trailers loaded with emergency relief supplies from Japan were backed into the dock and being unloaded. A representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Mr. Keiichiro Nakazawa, Chief Representative for the Washington, DC based agency was on hand to oversee the transfer of donated goods from the people of Japan to the people of Alabama who had suffered from devastating tornadoes on April 27th. Kye, as he prefers to go by, said, “Japan was grateful for the outpouring of relief efforts and compassion shown by the United States,” referring to their recent earthquake and tsunami disasters and the subsequent radiation release. We discussed how the relief efforts demonstrated by both nations are seen as positive goodwill gestures, and how that in times such as these, despite our cultural and geographic differences, we are all we are all human beings who may need help from their neighbors and friends from time to time. Mr. Nakazwa arrived ahead of another member of the Japanese delegation, Mr. Takuji Hanatani, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, GA, who was there to officially present the donations to the State of Alabama.

Representing the State of Alabama was Attorney General Luther Strange who received the donated goods, and FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne who addressed the local and FEMA media and reiterated the same points that Kye and I shared earlier.

After the media event, Kye and I swapped business cards, shook hands, bowed and said our sayonaras.

These are just a few of the two trailer loads of emergency relief goods donated by the people of Japan to the people of Alabama affected by the recent tornado disaster. As part of the LSCMS/ATS mission in tracking FEMA assets, IEM was there capturing data on the trailers that carried these commodities to the points of distribution (PODs).

Montgomery, AL, May 5, 2011 — Takuji Hanatani, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, speaks at the presentation of a gift of disaster supplies to the state of Alabama from Japan. Attorney General Luther Strange (right) accepted the gift on behalf of the state. FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne is at left. The commodities were given as a symbol of the appreciation of the Japanese Government for the assistance from the United States during their recent devastating earthquake and tsunami and in paying respect to the people of Alabama who suffered from the tornadoes of April 28. George Armstrong/FEMA


Closing note: Even though this was not an officially sanctioned event involving IEM, IEM was there supporting a mission at a cross dock operation performing a logistics task. My meeting with Mr. Nakazwa was by happenstance.


Author: Eston Spain, Emergency Planning Associate