Canadian Red Cross stepping up for Japan

The local branch of the Canadian Red Cross has been collecting donations to help with relief and rescue operations in Japan following last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

“Financial donations are the primary way to help out,” said Rob Rolston, coordinator of program and support services for the Canadian Red Cross in Red Deer.

Rolston said financial donations allow people in Japan to purchase what they need rather than Canadians sending a whole bunch of goods that aren’t necessarily crucial.

A powerful earthquake with an 8.9 magnitude struck Japan last Friday along with a tsunami that took thousands of lives.

The earthquake is said to be the biggest in Japan’s history and triggered the tsunami, which threatened 20 countries along the Pacific coast.

Other areas such as Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Palau were evacuated. In Japan, electricity was cut to more than five million homes and about one million homes were without water.

As if two disasters were not enough, a heightened alert was also issued due to the potential threat of nuclear radiation from a nuclear power station.

The Japanese Red Cross was quick to respond with relief efforts already in the works.

Search and rescue, emergency medical assistance, and psycho-social support were all part of the Red Cross’s early response along with basic necessities such as supplies including more than 30,000 blankets.

Volunteers with the Red Cross have been providing search and rescue services as well as first aid to the survivors. Tent clinics were set up with more than 60 medical teams of 400 doctors and nurses.

The international Red Cross is also helping out with financial donations and is currently on stand by if any other assistance is needed.

“Donations are very much appreciated with the extreme devastation and they could use our help for sure,” said Rolston.

Canadians are asked to support the Red Cross relief efforts by making a cash donation to the Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami fund and can be made online at www.redcross.ca/helpnow, or by calling 1-800-418-1111.

Also a one-time $5 donation can be made by texting ‘Asia’ to 30333.

Red Deerians are also asked to be careful when donating to a specific charity and are encouraged to check either identification or the name of the organization online.

Citizens are also urged to avoid wire transfers or cash when donating.

To view a list of humanitarian organizations visit www.dfait.gc.ca.

tsigurdson@reddeerexpress.com

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