As an American Red Cross employee Carrol Barrett tackles unknown situations every day. She has done so for the 25 years she’s been a Red Crosser.
But nothing at her work has been as difficult as learning about the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and then waiting to hear from her two brothers who live in Tokyo and travel throughout the area with their respective jobs.
When the siblings did reach each other, the news was good.
Barrett’s brother Paul Hoshizaki reported that he was safe in Tokyo where the quake registered 5.0 on the Richter scale. The day of the quake all transportation came to a standstill. “It took Paul two-and-a-half hours to walk home, along with millions of other walkers,” Barrett reports.
When Paul did reach home, he found a few broken items inside, but no damage to the structure of the house.
Barrett says she worries now about the availability of food and gasoline for her brother in Tokyo, even though there has been nothing in the news to make her anxious. She says her brother, who works for the Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Association, is caught up in coordinating response with other non-governmental organizations and hasn’t contacted her recently.
Carol Barrett’s other brother, Mark, and his wife Wendy, were in Taipei when the quake and tsunami hit Japan.
Mark also emailed his sister to let her know he was okay. He and his wife plan to return to Tokyo at the end of this week—that is—if they can get transportation into the city.
Barrett says she is more concerned about her sister-in-law’s family in Sendai, Japan. The family was safe following the earthquake and the tsunami. But now they have been living for nearly a week without gas, water or electricity, facing frigid temperatures and snow so heavy that storms have hampered rescue operations.
And Barrett is concerned about the tsunami damage to Japan’s nuclear power plants. Low levels of radiation have been measured in Tokyo, though thankfully not at levels dangerous to human health.
“I feel so fortunate I don’t have loved ones in northern Japan,” Barrett says. “At the same time I am heartsick.” She explains that she was born in Tokyo, the child of missionaries, and that Japan is part of her life.
As she grieves for Japan, Barrett continues her daily work at the American Red Cross. She is very grateful to be a part of the Red Cross and to do what she can. “Although I’m not directly involved in bringing aid to the Japanese people, I feel I am connected through my work at the Red Cross,” she comments.
To respond to the needs of those concerned about relatives in the affected regions International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is encouraging those living overseas to make use of its restoring family links web page: www.icrc.org/familylinks.