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Although last week's tsunami was no cause for alarm as it washed ashore in the Bay Area, one East Bay community has waited anxiously to hear from residents in its Japanese sister city, where heavy loss of life and widespread destruction were feared.
Concord's sister city, Kitakami, is located just 89 mile northwest of Sendai, the coastal Japanese city located closest to last week's magnitude 8.9 earthquake that was centered off the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan's most populous island.
Messages received from Kitakami's residents indicated that the city was mostly spared, according to a news statement issued by the city of Concord.
"We are relieved to hear that Kitakami survived the worst of the destruction" Concord Ambassadors President Mike Pastrick said in the statement. Members of the Concord Ambassadors support the sister city program in Kitakami.
The Ambassadors and the Japanese American Cultural Center in Concord are discussing what further actions can be taken once the situation in Japan is more stable.
In the days since the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, which wiped out entire coastal villages, normalcy has unraveled in parts of northeastern Honshu.
In Kitakami, food, water and gasoline remain in short supply, and all train transportation has been stopped. Emergency centers have been set up for those in need, according to the news release issued today.
"While Kitakami was spared, our hearts go out to the people of Japan in areas not so fortunate," Pastrick said. Less than 40 miles from Kitakami, the people of the Iwate Prefecture, Japan's second largest prefecture, suffered "horrendous losses," he said.
Pastrick said that the response from the Concord community has been positive, with many people asking how they can help. The best way to offer assistance, he said, is to donate to charities sending aid to Japan.
He recommended donating to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California's Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, at www.jccnc.org; the Japan Society of Northern California, at www.give2asia.org/japansociety; the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, at www.sf.us.emb-japan.go.jp/e_top.htm; the Salvation Army; or the American Red Cross, among others.
Bay City News