Disaster "after care" ~After disaster strikes~

Lessons learned from the unprecedented levels of destruction brought on by the great East Japan disaster. Speaking out about the critical need for disaster "after care."

The great East Japan disaster 2011.3.11

19,074 deaths 2,633 missing persons 6,219 injured persons

The background photograph is provided courtesy of the Institute for Fire Safety and Disaster Preparedness in Japan. http://www.isad.or.jp/

The critical need for disaster "after care"

Eiji Miyazaki, Tri-Wall Japan Inc.

The unprecedented disaster that struck East Japan in 2011 affected a far greater number of people than previously anticipated. Among those whose lives were spared, many lost a place to return to. The designated public shelters were filled to capacity with people who could not go home because their homes were either destroyed or located in evacuation zones. They began their stay in shelters not knowing when normalcy would return.

The privacy people took for granted in their pre-disaster normal living environment was absent in the shelters. Securing an educational environment for children and restoring a sense of normalcy was among the top priorities, but the task was far from easy. The people lost so much and simply were not prepared for this level of destruction.

We thought long and hard about what we could do to help. In fact, even before the 2011 disaster struck, we had been preparing for disaster "after care." We learned after the disaster that our products are uniquely suited for such after care. The demand for our products was more than expected. Starting with partitions in public shelters, our company supplied a number of products to the disaster areas including classroom furniture such as fortified corrugated material lockers used in temporary classrooms and storage shelves and beds for temporary housing units built after the earthquake.

This experience has led us to believe that having the knowledge is key to saving lives and to speed up the process of regaining normalcy. The first priority is to save lives, and then the next goal should be restoring normalcy as much as possible. And to achieve such goal, we are convinced that advance preparation for disaster after care is essential.

At Tri-Wall Inc., we have 40 years of experience in utilizing the Tri-Wall Pak, our three-layered especially manufactured corrugated material, in everything from improving the packaging for heavy content or content meant for export to total innovation in goods transportation.

Though the Tri-Wall Pak is made of paper material, it has superior water proof quality and strength, making it especially suited for challenging environmental changes inherent in goods transportation. Being made of paper material, it allows the package design to be more flexible, which results in lower packaging material cost, increased transportation efficiency, and minimizing packing and unpacking burden. In regards to protecting the environment, the added benefits include its recyclability and reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide compared to other material such as steel, woods and plastic.

The Tri-Wall inc. has an extensive network of fabricators (agent offices overseeing manufacturing and sales, and servicing) throughout the world. Our objective is to offer the "hard" (the Tri-Wall Pak with its excellent features) and the "soft" (consulting that offers innovative goods transportation solutions based on value analysis) in a more high-quality, safe, and global manner. Currently we operate 90 bases located in China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, European Union countries and others. This network allows us to deliver the same high quality and service products for orders as small as one case.

Since the features of the Tri-Wall Pak includes being light weight, very strong and adaptable, and easy to assemble and fold; we have been exploring its applications to areas other than packaging. We have high expectations that it will make contributions to areas such as coffins, POP, and card boards.

Each year in June the Tri-Wall Inc. plants trees in Mongolia and from now on we will strive even more to globally push forward the system that will lessen the environmental impact through our Tri-Wall business section.

Sendai's bold decision (from product order to delivery)

The schools which were destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami soon resumed operations in make shift classrooms set up within neighboring schools that were not affected. In early April, 2011, we at Konno Konpou received an inquiry from the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture through Tri-Wall Japan Inc. about the availability of products such as lockers, partitions, and shoe boxes to be used in the temporary classrooms.

In response to this initial contact, we met with representatives from Tri-Wall Japan Inc. and a Sendai office equipment company in Sendai to discuss details. We brought a product sample, a shelf, which was received very favorably. The following day we conducted a survey of the school teachers to assess their opinions and preference about our products.

The next day we delivered one locker, which was subsequently followed by the delivery of a significant number of products made to order to 11 schools at 15 locations in the city of Sendai.

Around the same time we also contacted the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture and we started delivery to the affected schools there in mid May following our operation in Sendai. Our delivery and setup in Ishinomaki occurred 32 times in total to serve 14 schools there.

By March 2012, ten temporary school buildings were completed in Sendai and we supplied tables, lockers, storage boxes and back panels to be used in most of the classrooms. The time that transpired between the beginning of the production process and the end of the delivery was one month. Two machines operated non-stop during this time in order to complete the installation process during the schools' spring vacation.
*In addition, we filled orders from five schools in Iwate prefecture's Kamaishi city in June 2011.

The office equipment company in Sendai handled estimating the number of products needed, proposals, and negotiations with the Sendai city government offices. Our company, Konno Konpou, was in charge of the measurement of the installation locations, development and production of the products, and delivery. The city of Sendai took such bold and decisive action with the aim of restoring and maintaining an educational environment in a timely manner and to minimize the delay in children's education.

We were able to maximize the impact of our products using the material with low environmental impact just enough to fulfill its role while minimizing the cost and the time needed for production.

Examples of "after care"

  • D-coffins made from fortified corrugated material

    The coffin is made from three-layered fortified corrugated material and is assembled using especially designed metal fasteners. When not in use, it can be folded and the entire coffin fits in the lid part. It can be stored long term and can easily be moved to a desired location as it only weighs about 15 kilograms (33 pounds). It can hold a body weighing up to 90 kilograms (198 pounds).

    Dimensions: 1900mm by 400mm by 500mm (height).
    Dimensions can be modified to fit the user's needs.

    We produced the coffin in response to the evacuees' requests during the period in which things were slowly calming down. The coffin was not actually used.

  • Temporary school health office made from fortified corrugated material

    The elementary schools struck by the disaster and set up temporary classrooms within other schools and facilities requested a school health office. We delivered and set one up at the location of their choice two days later. According to the teachers, the health office is a place where children can seek refuge, talk to the teacher or share what's troubling them in private. The office also served the purpose of providing care for children's emotional needs.

    There are no predetermined specifications or standards for such an office. This is yet another example of how we determined the design and specifications based on the clients' needs, and immediately implemented them.

  • Lockers and storage boxes made from fortified corrugated material
    (and other classroom material and shoe lockers)

    These were used in the affected schools' temporary classrooms and the temporary school buildings subsequently built. The basic design objective was to hold a school bag, musical instrument, and documents together and it was to be used in elementary schools. We further provided individual customization to meet the needs of each school, teachers, and also to fit the dimensions of individual classrooms.
    What is pictured in the photograph is a storage shelf along with a box made from fortified corrugated material. We built this set to meet the needs of those who wanted a storage unit with a drawer. Since the school environment was fraught with inconveniences and challenges, we designed the drawer handle to inspire smiles.

  • The L shaped SS panels: partitions for shelters made from fortified corrugated material

    We distributed partitions for 2,000 individuals at a shelter in the city of Ishinomaki immediately following the earthquake. When unfolded it is L-shaped. The dimensions are 1000mm by 1000mm by 1000mm (height). These partitions can be used flexibly: they can be used to divide space into one for a single individual or into one for a large family. The basic idea was to make a partition that can be installed individually wherever one is needed even after the shelter is filled with evacuees. It is designed to take the simplest form.
    In each shelter there were discussions as to which of the two should be prioritized, guarding people's privacy or an emergence and development of a community. We learned that one of the future goals is to meet both objectives, not one at the expense of the other.

Download (members only)

Disaster "after care": we provide CAD data, product visuals, and product brochure data for the Tri-Wall corrugated material products in the form of open source data.
Data for downloading is offered free of charge. However, given the nature of our products which may affect life and death in disaster situations, we request that a user not be anonymous. The data will be available for download once a user completes the member registration and enter the member ID and password contained in the e-mail sent when the registration is complete.