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Waveney teacher helps Japan quake effort

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 April 2011

Maddie Smith was caught up in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. She has now returned to the coastal city of Sendai.

Maddie Smith was caught up in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. She has now returned to the coastal city of Sendai.

Submitted

A BURGH St Peter teacher who was caught up in Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami has returned to the coastal city where she had been living.

Maddie Smith and her boyfriend Gus Byrne fled Sendai when the earthquake struck, but they have now returned and are helping to repair some of the damage.

The 23-year-old teacher initially travelled to Kamakura, just south of Tokyo, but soon returned to the coastal city.

Miss Smith said: “Back in Sendai there is a definite feel of returning to normal. Those that can are returning to their jobs, there are many people about and you feel that they are just following their everyday routine and continuing with as much normality as possible.

“But there are less cars on the road as there is still a lack of petrol and so it feels quieter. Not everywhere is open yet, but it is obvious the places that are closed are trying to reopen as quickly as possible.

“The supermarkets are starting to open however there are only certain items of food available. Yet there is the overall feel that life is getting back to how it was.”

On Sunday, she travelled to Ishinomaki where she helped work on houses that had been hit by the tsunami but were still standing.

“Everyone was split into groups of about six people and my group were helping to remove the ruined furniture from the house, then we removed the floorboards and pulled out all the mud that had got underneath the house,” she said.

“The Japanese people are doing a great job of continuing with normality whilst coping with the after effects of everything that has occurred.”

•Meanwhile, a local animal welfare fundraising group is hoping to travel to Japan to help animals hurt in the aftermath of last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Wetnose Animal Aid is hoping director Gavin Gamby-Boulger, retired vet Stuart Easby, nature film maker Maurice Melzak and two others from the International Fund for Animal Welfare will all be able to travel to Japan to help.

Mr Gamby-Boulger said: “We’re doing a story about how the animals are going to survive and what is needed out there, we do know they need heart worming tablets and vaccines urgently so we will take supplies with us.

“By helping the animals you also help the people, as they will get new land and start growing vegetables again but can’t unless their animals are fit and healthy, so it makes sense to help both.”

The non-profit organisation, which is based in Kirby Cane and has a shop in Beccles, is also raising funds for animal refuge Kansai and the Japan Animal Welfare Society.

They are hoping to visit for up to five days, with the trip co-coordinated and sponsored by Southside Broadcasting Radio, from Middlesbrough.

Donations can be sent do Wetnose Animal Aid Ltd, Newgate Lodge, Newgate, Kirby Cane, Norfolk, NR35 2PP, via www.wetnoseanimalaid.com or through the shop in Hungate, Beccles.

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