The town of Ohtsuchi, which suffered heavy damage by the Tsunami, is a typical hilly coastal town in Iwate Prefecture and many of the temporal houses for the Tsunami victims were built and scattered in the valleys.
BHN built the broadcasting antenna on the highest peak in the town, however, the broadcasting radio wave could not reach well to many of such scattered temporal houses.
Under such circumstances, BHN is now discussing with the town to establish a fundamental solution and, as its 1st step, installed non-stop power circuits in the Ohtsuchi Broadcasting Station at the end of September.
Soon after this, BHN will build a new broadcasting branch studio on a hill to work as an alternative station to replace the main station at a time of emergency and could continue the broadcasting works.
By the end of last June, BHN Association installed a non-stop power system for the broadcasting station in the Town of Watari.
Until then, once the commercial power supply is suspended, it was always necessary to manually start again which needed some person to rush to the radio station at night.
The system is composed of 6 high-capacity batteries in total for the radio emitter & antenna, automatic power chargers and other equipment. To minimize the cost to install the system BHN has hand-fabricated the non-stop power circuits(which cost around $10,000 in the market).
With the installation of this non-stop operation system, they are now able to continue broadcasting over 8 hours at the time of blackouts. This work has been realized with the funds from Global Giving .
Almost the entire radio system in Watari broadcasting station was built by BHN and they are planning to transform from a “temporal radio station” to a normal “community radio station” next year.
BHN is now consulting with Ohtuchi broadcasting station(in Iwate Prefecture) to improve the listening difficulties in the mountain areas and, after fixing the listening problem, we also intend to install the same non-stop power system there.
1. City of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture
The city of Natori is planning to reshuffle all the community FM broadcast system and founded an NGO to operate the system. Thus, BHN had been requested to prepare the studio designs and to assist the bidding procedure. At the end of March the contract was awarded to a local contractor and the construction work is going to start soon.
BHN is further requested to supervise the construction works.
2. Town of Watari, Miyagi Prefecture
After resolving the hearing difficulty of the community radio waves in the town, BHN has been requested to furnish emergency broadcasting networks in the town to support people in case of emergency. The followings were all completed by the end of last March.
(1) As the town market located in the pier was washed away by the Tsunami of Mar. 2011, the town recently rebuilt the market as a complex of market & souvenir center for visitors. BHN installed a specific kind of Community Addressing system in the market to make announcements to the visitors, both inside the building and out on the pier.
(2) For the purpose of public hearing of the community radio broadcast, special speaker systems were installed at the entrance of the railway station. The community radio will make warning announcements to the commuters in case of emergency as well as disseminating normal programs during day time.
(3) Many of public auditoriums and gyms of schools are assigned as emergency shelters and BHN installed 37 high receptivity radio receivers in those emergency shelters.
On Dec. 11, BHN Association, jointly with the other organizations, held a special workshop for the Disaster Radio Broadcasting Stations in Tohoku area that heavily suffered from the Tsunami of Mar.11, 2011.
The 11th day of each month is marked as the Memorial Day to remember the victims of Tsunami and the meeting started with a moment of silence.
The venue of the workshop was chosen in the city of Minami-Souma, which suffered a serious effect from the atomic accident of Fukushima and 1/3 of the city is banned to live and many people are still evacuating from their homes.
In this workshop, more than 25 people joined, many of them are operators of the radio stations and lost their families and relatives by the Tsunami.
Almost all the staff members of these broadcasting stations are laymen in the job and they exchanged their experiences , good or bad, to improve their broadcasting programs. Also, an engineer from BHN gave a lecture on the technical issues for maintenance & operation.
Quite a coincidence, a gigantic after-shock of the earthquake of last year happened (Mag. 7.4, bigger than the earthquake in Haiti, 2010) a few days before the workshop and caused a minor Tsunami and the attendants were extremely serious in their discussions.
In October 2012, IMF/World Bank held their general assembly in Japan and, during the session, publicized a report on the “Learning from Megadisasters”. In this publication it hailed the role of FM radio broadcasting as quoted below.
“Emergency FM radio also played a crucial role in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. When the emergency communication systems in many cities broke down,…community radio stations were able to get useful information out to residents….In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, these community radio stations began to provide information about the times and locations for the distribution of emergency food, water and goods In the following months they gradually shifted to providing other information to help victims in their daily lives to raise the spirits of people in local communities.” (The Great East Japan Earthquake-Learning from Megadisasters. Knowledge Note-Executive Summary)
Further development of FM Boadcasting Project in Tohoku
In the city of Minami-Souma, to improve the hearing difficulty of the radio wave, relocation work of the broadcasting antenna was completed in September 2012. Along with this relocation of the antenna , the change of radio wave frequency was also enforced. Now the radio wave is well received in all the area of the city including the area of Temporal Houses for refugees.
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