Posted by: charlesmccaul | March 11, 2011

Red Cross Response to Japan Disaster: Frequently Asked Questions

March 11, 2011

2:15 PM

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Threat:  FAQ

People will be calling us today, throughout the weekend and throughout the coming week primarily asking three questions:

1.     How can I give?

2.     How can I help?

3.     How can I contact my friend or relative?

Below are answers to frequently asked questions:

How can I give to the disaster victims?

  • The American Red Cross, as a matter of practice, automatically sends a sum of money to any disaster in the world.
  • Those who want to help can go to and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.
  • If you want to give to our local Disaster Relief Fund you may do so by sending a check to one of our branch offices.

How can I help?

  • The Red Cross and other disaster response organizations, as well as County, State, National and International entities works with the principle of Mutual Aid:

–         One nation doesn’t respond to a disaster in another nation unless they are requested to do so.  At this time Japan, being very well equipped to respond to their own disasters, has not requested assistance from the American Red Cross

–         If assistance is needed, Japan and the Japanese Red Cross will make a request through the International Society of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.  The ICRC will coordinate a disaster response from various nations, usually starting from nearby nations and going further out as the need demands.  Keep in mind, the best people to respond are those who know the local language and culture.

–         If the American Red Cross is requested to send human or material resources to Japan the first to be called is the highly trained International Response Team.  After that trained, Red Cross staff and volunteers will be called.  It’s unlikely that non-Red Cross spontaneous volunteers will be requested.

–         Our recommendation for the caller is to become a Red Cross volunteer in your local community to gain experience and training.  The Red Cross responds to disasters regularly on a local basis.  It is very fulfilling to help someone in your locale in a disaster situation.  You also gain the experience and proficiency to be available to be deployed nationally.

–         You may contact our main office with your contact information and our Disaster Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with you:  1-800-934-5344.

  • The Red Cross is not accepting in-kind donations such as food, clothing and blankets to send overseas.  We have supplies stored in Asia and other locations around the world from which we draw.  A cash donation is more useful than in-kind donation as it is usually more cost-effective for the Red Cross may buy materials in the locale of the disaster.
  • If you are a doctor, nurse or mental health professional we will take your contact information.  We highly recommend you become a local Red Cross volunteer so that your paperwork and background check is in order.  If there is a need for these professionals it will be necessary to go  through a Red Cross General Orientation and orientation relating to your specific field of service.

How can I find friends and family?

ICRC Family Links Website Available for Japan

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working closely with the Japanese Red Cross, has launched a special Family Links website to help people seeking to re-establish contact with family members and friends.

People in Japan and abroad can register on the website to inform their family and friends that they are safe and provide their current contact details, while those looking for people can check the list for information. They can also register the names of family members and friends, encouraging them to get in touch.

The website is at

The Red Cross is still unable to accept International Disaster Inquiries for Japan. Please encourage members of your community to utilize the ICRC website and to keep calling and to trying to contact other family members who live in the region. Even though communication networks are overloaded right now, the situation may change and access to mobile networks and the internet may improve.

Other Family Linking Resources

The Google Person Finder site is available at:

If you have the mobile phone number of your family member in the affected areas, you may utilize the following services to check whether he/she has registered his/her message(s) on this service. Services are available in English and Japanese.





Please note that when you enter the mobile phone number for search on the webpage, you should remove the country code 0081 and add 0 at the beginning. For example, if you dial the number internationally as follows, 0081-90-8877-6655, enter it into the website as: 09088776655 (enter the number without any dashes).

US Citizens Living or Traveling in Japan

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.

Inquiries Regarding US Military Stationed in Japan

The American Red Cross Safe and Well website has been updated to include the disaster dropdown “Japanese Earthquake.” Military members can register themselves on the site as being safe and well and families of Military members stationed overseas can check to see if their loved ones are registered on the site:


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