Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

By Donna Westfall  – February 19, 2018 –

Rikuzentakata, Japan had 24,000 population before March 11, 2011 when a 40 foot wave totally devastated their city, killing 1700 people, and destroying 80% of the 8,000 homes. The town is about twice the size of Crescent City.

Sup. Bob Berkowtiz recounted his week in Japan at the morning Town Hall Meeting.  Also on the trip were Sup. Lori Cowan, Crescent City Mayor, Blake Inscore and City Councilwoman, Heidi Kime.

Even though they had some pleasant moments which included cooking and eating a $12 burger at the Shake Shack, this was not a pleasure trip.  The Mayor who lost his wife to the Tsunami, along with 68 of the city officials and one third of the municipal employees, along with hundreds of firefighters. Their mission was to enlighten and instruct their sister city, Crescent City,  in how to prepare for a 1,000 year event so as to save lives and property from total destruction.

They had thousands of trees planted over a thousand years that helped shelter the town from winds storms, and smaller tsunami’s but all but one tree were swept away from the 2011 Tsunami.

The schools were located on hills so children survived,  but the children had no parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents to go back to.

Years ago, our local Rotaries sent over shelter boxes that contained tents, freeze dried food and more.  After the Tsunami, these boxes were then used to house displaced people for up to six months.

The baseball field is not used for playing baseball.  It’s for those still displaced until housing is built.

Why did Rikuzentakata take such an interest in Crescent City?  Because a boat of theirs washed up on our beach two years after the tsunami. Students from Del Norte High School recovered the boat covered in goose neck barnacles. They decided to clean the boat and return it to Takata High School. In 2014, they traveled to Japan and visited the High School. A shrine has been set-up in Takata High School of Del Norte County.

There are some things that each of us can do to survive a disaster of this magnitude. Some of the basics include having a GO BAG.  Pack this up in advance of any major event:

  • Flashlight
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations, quarters for phone calls and updated phone card
  • Butane lighter and matches
  • Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local and regional maps
  • Water and food (snacks and one or two bottles per person)
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first-aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or disabled family members.
Go-Bags for Pets:
  • Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. (A pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals.)
  • Food, potable water and medicine for at least one week
  • Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid
  • Plastic bags, litter box and litter
  • Recent photo of each pet
  • Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
  • Copy of your pet’s vaccination history and any medical problems

Since the Tsunami, the city is currently rebuilding by increasing it’s elevation by 40 feet.

This April 14-16, dignitaries from Japan will be visiting Crescent City/Del Norte County for three days.


7 thoughts on “Sup. Bob Berkowitz returns from Japan”
  1. What “Japanese” group paid for this trip? I find this interesting since per travel per diem claims have submitted by these travelers.

  2. you forgot to mention Debbie Olson of Northwoods realty was blessed to go to Japan. Why wasn’t other public members offered this trip? Why is it a secret? What does a realtor contribute to society in Japan? Why wasn’t an environmentalist or geologist offered to go?

    1. Do you know who paid for Debbie Olson’s trip? If she paid herself there’s no issue. She’s certainly free to join Lori and others for the trip. If any of it was funded by taxpayer funds, then there’s an issue. Please let me know.

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