Del Norters are in for a tsunami-minded March, with the 50-year commemoration of the 1964 tsunami that changed Crescent City forever, and Tsunami Safe Week, which includes safety-focused events starting March 19 and culminating in a full-scale evacuation on March 26.
Additionally, a delegation from the North Coast is preparing to leave for Japan this week to meet the owners of a boat that washed ashore in Crescent City more than two years after being ripped to sea from Japan during the March 2011 tsunami.
On Friday, Del Norte High School students, teachers, local law enforcement officials, emergency responders and tsunami science specialists will be heading to Japan, and ultimately Rikuzentakata, the Japanese city where the “Miracle Boat” originated and which had the second-highest death toll in Japan.
A TV production crew from TV Asahi America, the U.S. branch of one of the largest national television networks in Japan, is in Crescent City this week to document the departure of the Del Norte High students who were involved in trying to help return the “Miracle Boat” — as it’s been dubbed by the boat’s owners, Takata High School.
Eighty percent of Rikuzentakata’s downtown was destroyed by surges that reached the top of three-story buildings; every structure not made of concrete was washed away, and one third of city hall employees died. The mayor and 129 other city employees survived by spending the night on the city hall’s roof, according to Amya Miller, the city’s global public relations officer.
Takata High School was still standing after the disaster, but since it was “completely damaged and unusable” it was eventually demolished per the city’s decision to level any building where someone had died (at least one teacher and about 20 students perished in the high school), Miller said.
The survivors of Rikuzentakata have appreciated the return of the “miracle boat” in October as it has been called a ”symbol of hope” for the battered town.
Both Crescent City and Rikuzentakata officials have expressed excitement at the prospect of forging an ongoing relationship with a city across the Pacific Ocean that faces similar tsunami threats.
Planners of Tsunami Safe Week are hoping for very high participation in the full scale evacuation drill and live code test, which takes place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 26.