The natural disasters happening in Japan are so tragic; it is hard to imagine the destruction and devastation from the earthquake and tsunami, and the continued threats from nuclear radiation.
I travelled to SE Asia in January 2005, right after the 2004 Tsunami. While it wasn't the purpose of our trip we wanted to volunteer right away, but at the time were told only medical personnel were being used. A couple of months into our trip, we met a girl from Montreal who had just come from Kho Phi Phi and she encouraged us to go there and help out. We spent a week there in March 2005 and I will never forget it. This was 3 months after the tsunami struck, and Phi Phi was not even close to functioning. There was debris everywhere, only a few hotels operating, but the mood was hopeful. We were there just after one of their most delicious restaurants (Oasis) re-opened, and we were there for opening night of one of their famous beach bars with fire dancers. We helped where we could, lugging cement and other building materials, and painting shops so they could reopen and provide for tourists when they returned. All of this marked a slow return to "normal" for the residents and business people of Kho Phi Phi.
I hope that it doesn't take as long for Japan.