HOUSTON -- The images of the earthquake and tsunami from a half a world away have been so devastating that people at the Japan-America Society of Houston are hearing the same question over and over.

Lots and lots of calls, said Yoko Authur, the Japan-America Society of Houston Administrator. People want to help Japanese people, (asking) what can we do?

It's a question the society had been asking too. The society, along with a number of Japanese affiliated groups in Houston, were gearing up for the 18th annual Japan Festival in April. But, this year, the organizers considered cancelling the springtime event that attracts more than 20,000 people.

We felt like, should we do something festive and forget about the tragedy that happened in Japan or not? explained Yuki Rogers, a spokesperson for the Japanese Festival.

They decided to continue the popular tradition, adding an element to this year's event to help the people of Japan.

We're going to set up the tent for a fundraising, said Rogers. So, I hope some people will come over and take a look at the festival and think about the people over there in the Sendai area as well.

Help is needed in the Sendai area. People are dealing with frigid temperatures, little food or water, and many are still trying to find family members.

Back at the Japan-America Society Yoshiko Smith had been trying to reach her family in Tokyo since Friday s catastrophic events.

Finally, last night, I got through to my sister and I talked to my brother, said Smith.

Smith s brother told her that with the nuclear plant explosions electricity is scarce.

They have blackouts every day to conserve electricity, said Smith.

Smith's family is fine, but she knows there are others dealing with so much more.

That s why at this year s Japan Festival in Hermann Park there will be a fundraiser for the stricken country offering Houstonians a way to help.

The festival is April 9h and 10.

The Japan-America Society says the Japanese government has not set up a donation fund, but instead is recommending that people can also give to the Japanese Red Cross.

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