Hawaii man makes 2nd trip into disaster zone

Kirby Fukunaga
Kirby Fukunaga
Fukunaga's group's vans packed with relief supplies & food
Fukunaga's group's vans packed with relief supplies & food
Fukunaga presents monetary donations to Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai
Fukunaga presents monetary donations to Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

NORTHERN HONSHU, JAPAN (HawaiiNewsNow) – Kirby Fukunaga, of Kaimuki, was so moved by the disaster in Japan he not only risked radiation poisoning by flying there to deliver emergency supplies to tsunami stricken people along the Northeastern coast of Honshu Island, he has gone back on a second mission of mercy taking food to people in places where food is still scarce.

"This is one of our vans, full with stuff," Fukunaga can be heard saying in a video clip he sent to Hawaii News Now.

Fukunaga and six friends who live in Japan have spent the past few days taking fish, fruit, and other fresh food to overcrowded shelters in small towns and big cities trashed by the tsunami.

The pictures Fukunaga has sent back to Hawaii illustrate how grateful people are when they receive needed supplies.

During a video conversation via Skype, Fukunaga said the food and the effort he and his team is making seems to lift spirits, if only for a while.

"We went to one of the evacuation enters yesterday and when we were leaving one of the old grandpa guys came out and said, 'Thank you so much for coming. We really appreciate it, but don't worry about us. We'll be fine.' And that really made us happy hearing that," Fukunaga said.

But for every uplifting experience there are many more images of heartbreak. (SEE VIDEO)

Fukunaga's mission of mercy was inspired by the mayor of the city of Minamisoma. Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai put a plea for help on YouTube. Fukunaga visited Minamisoma during his first trip through the disaster zone, but Mayor Sakurai was occupied with other business and could not meet with Fukunaga and his team of volunteers.

During this second trip into the disaster zone Fukunaga did have the opportunity to meet Mayor Sakurai. The two discussed the impact from radiation spewing from the nearby Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Fukunaga gave the mayor an envelope with money donated by people from Hawaii and he posed with the mayor while wearing a "We Are One" t-shirt. Fukunaga sold the shirts to raise money to purchase supplies.

"I'm probably going to fly back to Hawaii for a couple weeks and try to figure out what the next step is," Fukunaga said. "There's a long way to go here and I'm in it for the long run, that's for sure."

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