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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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03.31.11         michael's insights  

More success


From Michael:

"Something I cannot get over is how meaningfully awesome everyday here is. As a group, today we knocked it out of the park. We are having way too much fun and success.

When we started the day, all of our trucks were stock full of supplies after having them brought up from Sendai. There was even a little discussion over dinner last night on whether or not we would be able to find the right groups of people to deliver to and we may have too much.

Nate F, Samuel and Jon H were supposed to go out to Baba Nakayama to help complete the new shelter where 20-30 of them will be sleeping. These are the same people living in the rubble.

I paired up with Nathan B's brother Tomio, to go GPS tagging. The rest of the team was ready to move the supplies as the GPS tags came in.

Long story short, Tomio and I tracked down 4 communities that needed help, and Nate found another on his way to and from Baba Nakayama. Deliveries were made to all of these locations later in the day, some within the hour of getting the information. The system we have going is just awesome, and it gets a little better each day.

One of the communities we tracked down today was collecting canned food they were finding in the rubble- with the intention of eating it later.

When we can find people like this, ask them what they need, and get most of it to them within a few hours, they are really surprised and happy. It's the best feeling in the world to see this and help others with such speed and efficiency.

Tomio and I had heard about an Island called Oshima that had just opened a ferry yesterday, and thought this would be a good place to check out. Long story short, we caught a ferry over, met with the Island Leader and arranged for his delivery to take place tomorrow morning as we need to bring supplies up from Sendai. We will send it over by boat.

On the way back to camp, we just so happened to watch one of our delivery crews reach one of the 4 we tagged before we went to the island. We helped them unload and this little old woman was just bowing over and over, smiling...happy. :)

Tomio and I had a great day together tagging- best day yet! We understand now that our "target market" so to speak- are the smaller coastal communities where people are still living in their destroyed homes- these people are the ones who most easily slip through the cracks, need the most help and whom we are best equipped to assist. We want to focus more on these groups.

Nate, Samuel and Jon finished the shelter- it is beautiful and a credit to their work effort and craftsmanship. Tomio noted how well Nate has fit in with the group- he was just what we needed when he came in.

We have 6 girls here at camp who help make meals and clean but they also go buy food and have been getting in on the deliveries. I call them the "honey bees" because they are always working. They, like so many other people are vital cogs of a very well functioning machine.

Toby Roybal, my "information operator" working from Atlanta has been scouring the Internet for leads and tips and has been a critical part of our success. He has supplied us with information that has led to many, many finds and has done so between family, work and sleep. None of this would have been possible without him.

I have a lot of family and friends who have also sacrificed greatly- Jen, Jill and Stephen, uncle jay and uncle tony. Friends on Facebook- everyone. I have received many emails if support and encouragement and I greatly appreciate it. I am so thankful to everyone who has contributed to our success.

Tonight, our supply trucks are empty- we moved everything we had. Honda, one of our delivery team members said "I won't doubt you again". I am really amazed at how well everything continues to work out.

Lessons Learned:

- Never Believe the Assumptions- in every major disaster situation, those in charge will think everything is under control, and it may be to some extent, at least as far as they can see, but when you get out there and meet the people face to face, it's almost always a different story.

- Lack of Aid Variety- Rice and Water indefinitely isn't going to cut it. Most of the groups we are finding are literally living off rice for the last 3 weeks.

- Aid Fatigue- The longer aid is needed, the greater chance those responding will eventually tire and become ineffective. Additionally, initial stocks of supplies and food must be continually refreshed. This can be a problem because with more time, there seems to be a less sense of urgency.

- We realize that we cannot help everyone. The need far exceeds our capacity, but we can focus on what we do best and do our best at it. We will fall short of what we want to do and in the end this is something we will have to live with.

- I know I will feel guilty going home, whenever this happens. I can pack up, get on a plane to Maui. Live under a roof, with my own clothes, food, car, job. It will hurt me to know these people cannot leave their circumstances as I can and will. I feel bad about that.

Right now the plan is to do a few more tags and deliveries tomorrow. We will probably take the weekend off to rest (much needed) and reassess how much more we will be able to do.

VERY Excited for tomorrow!"



Ferry ride to Oshima Island.
Tagging on Oshima Island.
A family of one of the communities they found.
Another community they tagged. These guys were collecting food from the rubble.
Tomio giving food to a woman they met on the road.
Helping with a delivery.
Dinner at camp - The honey bees have found a clever way to keep Michael's appetite in check by determining mushrooms are a part of certain dishes in every single meal. :) Michael says though that In all honesty, they feed him very well and even prepare meals for him when he is out all day, even if he doesn't return in time to eat them. They never complain.

On a side note, he's got the whole chopsticks thing down cold!

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