Late at night on April 14 2016 7.5 miles (12 km) below Mt. Kinpu Northwest of Kumamoto City plates slipped instigating a magnitude 6.4 earthquake which caused major damage in the area east of Kumamoto and inspired more than 140 aftershocks over the following two days. This was overshadowed by a main shock of 7.1 at 1:25 AM on the 16th, the most powerful quake recorded in Kyushu in modern times, and a trembler which brought down many already damaged buildings and weekened hillsides. At least 35 people were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured. By April 18, the number of people seeking shelter had surpassed 180,000. IDRO members arrived in Mashiki, one of the worst hit areas, in the predawn hours of April 19th, setting up base alongside an advance team from Nippon Zaidan.
Typhoon Etau hit eastern Japan on Sept. 10 and 11 2015 a dropped unprecedented levels of rain, up to 50 cm in 24 hours, on parts of Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, the deluge causing the Kinugawa to burst its banks in several places causing widespread damage and inundating thousands of homes and displacing more than 100,000 people. IDRO members arrived in Kanuma city in the pre-dawn hours of September 12th, immediately setting to work with members of Open Japan and Nippon Zaidan. Realizing it would be better to work in a wider area, we moved to Joso on September 14th, setting up a base camp from which we employed a fluctuating group of volunteers in the central parts of Joso city for the next two months.
On 22 November 2014 a magnitude-6.7 earthquake struck Nagano Prefecture leveling homes in the Ski resort area of Hakuba and adjacent communities damaging or destroying more than 400 buildings. The coming of winter snow and danger of working in partially collapsed buildings inspired IDRO to send in a small group of experienced people to assist other groups such as Human Shield Kobe, Open Japan, and Nippon Zaidan, who also sent in teams of specialists.
Typhoon Man-yi lashed Japan on September 15th and 16th 2013, causing wide scale flooding including in the resort district of Arashiyama in Kyoto and neighboring areas in the prefecture. 260,000 people in the city were ordered to evacuate to shelters and another 85,000 were evacuated from Fukuchiyama. IDRO organized a volunteer team on the morning of the 17th and was digging within 24 hours of the water breaching the Kangetsukyo bridge. We followed that up with flood relief activities in Kameoka, and organized the dispersal of 10 propane Yu-wakashiki water heaters for flood victims.
On 11 and 12 July 2012 according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, Kumamoto and neighboring Oita prefectures saw “the heaviest rain that [the region] has ever experienced” spawning flooding that caused 28 deaths and forced 250,000 people to flee their homes. IDRO teamed up with INJM to send a team of workers into the area. Working with the assistance of locals and volunteers, we worked our way from Yabake into the central Aso area, setting up a camp for experienced teams along the slopes of Mt. Aso to last over the summer months.