Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still Stunned by what I Have Seen in Japan

I watched some videos today of the tsunami in Japan, many of the pictures were taken from helicopters. Some people asked why they didn't see more people in the water. In Japan they have sirens that alert them to Tsunamis and the people know to go to higher ground. They did not have warning sirens in the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 many of the islands that were hit did not have a warning system.

The Japanese have one of the best civil defense systems in the world and their population is trained. In Indonesia in 2004 we saw pictures of people who went out to look at the waters as the receded, you will not find that in Japan except by foreigners.

The horrible reality is that this tsunami and quake were so large that even the Japanese were not fully prepared. What I kept thinking as I watched the videos was the enormity of the event and how it looked like models rather than real buildings. The buildings and cars were moved so effortlessly by the water, the water overtook the land and just kept moving in. It appeared at times as if it would never stop. Sometimes we forget how powerful the ocean is.

Living in Los Angeles we think about earthquakes but not about tsunamis; but, in fact we have been hit by them in the past, rare; but, it does occur. In coastal cities it is not uncommon to have wastewater plants next to the ocean and I have always thought this was a bad idea. In the event of tsunami in California it is possible that many of these plants could be destroyed and that would mean no sewage treatment. I hope that this is not true in Japan; however, I suspect it is.

I can't really think about anything else for the moment. The thought of what is happening in Japan seems to me the most important thing at the moment. I am not sure that I have anything to add to what is happening; but, I want to talk about it and try and process it. I wonder how I would feel if I were at my favorite restaurant (it overlooks Santa Barbara) and saw a wave come in and destroy Santa Barbara, I don't know how my mind could accept without the blessing of the passage of time.

This event is going to effect the Japanese for decades to come. Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and had prepared better than any other nation for tsunamis and still they could not protect themselves. Let us be very clear, if it wasn't for their preparations, this would have been even worse. Still, it is pretty horrible.

I don't know what else to say. The Prime Minister of Japan said they were going to build a new Japan and that it would be based on the choices of all the Japanese. I think that is the right way to look at it. What happened has happened; but, the only thing they can do now is plan for the future.

A Link to where you can donate for the relief effort. I am not endorsing any of them, especially not the Red Cross; but, I wanted people to know how to. Be well.

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