Taiwan Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps Helps with Recovery After Typhoon

Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps went into action in Taiwan, which was hit by powerful Typhoon Nari on September 16. The typhoon hit land at the northern part of the island, moved west-southwest very slowly, and hovered off the island for about five days, dumping record amounts of rain. It killed more than 80 people and caused tremendous damage throughout the island. Especially in Taipei and its vicinity, many buildings were flooded above floor level and in some areas the muddy water even reached second-story windows. This resulted in paralyzing life-line services such as electricity, water, public transportation, and telecommunications all day long on the 17th. The typhoon cut off electricity to more than 1.3 million households and telephone services to over 500,000 households. Mobile phones were unable to be used in some areas since over 600 relay points were inundated.

On the afternoon of September 17, two members of the Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps in Taiwan visited the disaster-stricken areas to survey the damage. Hearing their report, the corps held a meeting with Bishop Takenori Hashimoto of Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in Taiwan and decided to mobilize its members for relief action. The Hinokishin Corps went into action in the most afflicted areas in Taipei between September 18 and 24, engaging mainly in removing mud, household goods, and waste from the damaged houses in the Neihu district of Taipei.

On September 23, the participants in the annual convention of the Young Men’s Association Taiwan Chapter at the Mission Headquarters in Taiwan joined the relief activities with Bishop Hashimoto and Young Men’s Association Headquarters Committee Member Michiyasu Matsumura, who was sent by the association headquarters in Tenri, Japan. Participants from southern parts of the island postponed their departure to return home so that they could join in the relief activities.

Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps in Taiwan was mobilized for the first time since it was established last March as Tenrikyo’s first formally organized overseas disaster relief corps. Little known in Taiwan, it had to find relief activities on its own initiative. When they first got to the damaged areas in the Neihu district, they found that buildings along the narrow streets where heavy machines were unable to be used were untouched, while the main streets were being cleared by army troops. Once the Hinokishin Corps began helping people clear away debris in these areas, requests from residents poured in one after another. Corps Head Yoshiyuki Tanada said, “We have been readying ourselves to cope with disasters quickly and engage in relief activities in a unity of minds with all followers in Taiwan.” During the seven-day period, a total of 150 members participated in the activities, providing relief for 25 houses.

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