From June 28 to July 8, persistent heavy rainfall struck western Japan and caused mudslides and floods, leaving devastating damage in many areas such as Okayama, Ehime, Yamaguchi, Gifu, Hyogo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima prefectures.
At the request of severely affected municipalities and their social welfare councils, Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps’ local units—such as those in Yamaguchi, Gifu, Aichi, and Hyogo dioceses—began taking actions to provide disaster relief support in the immediate aftermath.
In the meantime, on July 10 and 11, two representatives of Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps Headquarters, Director Isafumi Tanaka and Vice Director Tokuhiro Nakagawa, visited Okayama, Hiroshima, and Ehime prefectures to assess the damage and identify the types of relief efforts they would need to provide. On the 13th, Church Headquarters’ Disaster Counteraction Committee (chaired by Yoshiyuki Nakano) decided to dispatch the headquarters corps to Ehime and Okayama prefectures, where the damage seemed most serious.
The first unit dispatched to Ehime Prefecture operated in the cities of Ozu, Seiyo, and Uwajima from July 13 to 16. This unit comprised a total of 122 members drawn from Ehime, Tokushima, and Kagawa diocese corps and the headquarters corps. They removed broken furniture, mud, and debris from houses and vegetable fields. It was followed by the second and third units—the second one comprising 333 people from Ehime, Tokushima, Kagawa, and Kochi diocese corps in addition to members from the headquarters corps, and the third unit consisting of 227 people from Ehime, Kochi, and Oita diocese corps besides those from the headquarters corps. They removed mud and debris with heavy machinery as well as by hand.
Meanwhile, the first unit sent to Okayama Prefecture comprised a total of 217 members from Okayama, Hyogo, Shimane, and Tottori diocese corps and the headquarters corps. They were at work from July 15 to 17 in the cities of Soja and Kurashiki. Also, the second unit—consisting of members from Okayama, Nara, and Shiga diocese corps and the headquarters corps—was dispatched from July 17 to 19. They engaged in the restoration of damaged houses and, within these five days, they removed 257 tons of rubble and debris as well as huge amounts of mud in addition to cleaning houses with high-pressure washers.
In the meantime, many members of some other diocese corps—such as those from Yamaguchi, Gifu, Hyogo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima—devoted themselves to relief efforts in devastated places in their local prefectures while listening to those affected by the calamities. Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps Headquarters Director Isafumi Tanaka commented: “In the aftermath of the damage caused by severe rainfall in so many areas, local diocese and chapter corps are also making their individual efforts in the ‘spirit of saving others.’ We members of the headquarters corps would like to flexibly respond to their needs, and now we are planning to establish new centers to provide more relief support. We would also like to take actions in accordance with the needs of those affected and reach out to their hearts.”