Los Angeles-area nonprofits mobilize for Japan tsunami relief

This aerial shot shows houses in flame after being hit by a tsunami at Natori city in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan on March 11, 2011.
This aerial shot shows houses in flame after being hit by a tsunami at Natori city in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan on March 11, 2011. YOMIURI SHIMBUN/AFP/Getty Images

Within hours after a tsunami and earthquake struck Japan’s northeastern coast, Southland nonprofits are coordinating relief efforts.

Following the magnitude 8.9 quake, relief workers like Bruce Brinker began to respond. He works with Operation USA, a Culver City-based organization that’s distributed disaster relief since 1979. Operation USA is in contact with organizations in Japan, and it can offer a lot of help if need be.

"We have disaster relief kits that we have here for emergency preparedness for quakes here in Southern California that are available for instances like this," Brink said. "We have concrete cutting saws, jackhammers, things like that they may need to get through concrete for rescue purposes."

Margaret Aguirre works for the Santa Monica-based International Medical Corps. The organization sends medical assistance to disaster sites all over the world.

"Right now International Medical Corps is mobilizing our teams, getting together who we’re going to send and making sure that they’re equipped," said Aguirre. "We have to be able to send in teams that are ready to treat patients the minute they hit the ground."

Aguirre also adds that while much of the quake’s damage is centered in Japan, there are other nations that may be affected and need assistance just as much. Officials at all relief organizations agree on thing: people can most effectively do their part by donating money – not food or other materials – to the agencies that mobilize the help.

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