Communication tools and handing over to families

Story: Shima Fukushikai Foundation, Sakura Gakuen Vocational Support Center for the Disabled
Director (at the time of the disaster in 2011): Mr. Atsushi Sano

We had difficulty having contact with trainees’ parents or family members, but tried to phone one by one and as much as we could.

There was one public telephone, a pink one, at the school. It was functioning without any restraints at the beginning. People made a line with ten yen coins in their hands. We did too. I remember that we limited ourselves to make only a few calls at a time not to impede others to make theirs, and then go back to the end of the line again. It was in the late afternoon of the first day.

There were families we couldn’t get hold of. We could with some and couldn’t with others. Some families came to pick the trainees up at the school as they guessed we were taking shelter there. Others went to look for them in other places first and then came to the school. We started handing trainees over to their guardians in the evening of that day as they came to the school.

Users from Moshiono Sato were taking refuge with us too. There were some users at that facility who lived by themselves. We thought some of them, depending on their ability to support themselves, should stay with us longer.

We decided not to send them home until we could get hold of their families. We didn’t know how their houses were like and the situations didn’t allow us to verify the status of their houses one by one. I guess the trainees and users themselves felt like to stay with us because of that very uncertain situation. That evening of the first day, we didn’t go with them to their houses or go out to see the situation of their houses.