Last Friday, Dr. Kit Miyamoto of Miyamoto International, West Sacramento, was departing by train from Tokyo when the northeastern Japan 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck.
His initial report was posted at www.miyamotointernational.com: “I was in the train near Ikebukuro station when the train suddenly stopped with a loud creaking noise at 2:55 p.m. today. Japan’s state-of-the-art earthquake system at work.... That’s what I thought at first. But it has been a struggle since. It is 1:30 a.m. now and we are still not far from where the train stopped. Japan Railway actually closed down the stations and sent out all commuters into the cold night. They announced that they are concerned about structural safety. Continuous aftershocks make me feel like I have car sickness as my family and I walk on the train tracks. I am concerned about the deep cough of my little daughter in the freezing night. I better find our way fast.”
Dr. Miyamoto was, coincidentally, presenting at the earthquake engineering conference in Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is now heading to the disaster site per client requests to conduct expert damage assessment.
In the past year, Dr. Miyamoto and his crews have now been assessing damage from three major earthquakes, including Christchurch and Haiti. This has got to be a tough job…
He notes on npr.org that the big difference between a place like Haiti and Japan is that Japan, which experiences a magnitude 7 or 8 earthquake every decade or so, has become expert in earthquake technology and engineering. “They get good at it,” he says.
Meanwhile, as you know, the west coast of California went through some tsunami turmoil of its own on Friday. Gov. Jerry Brown immediately issued an emergency proclamation for Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties following the tsunami’s impact along the California coast, which caused damage to ports, harbors and infrastructure.
Reports indicate that both Santa Cruz and Crescent City harbors have been severely damaged, so rebuilding programs will begin as soon as harbor and public works crews remove sunken boats (18 in Santa Cruz, 17 in Crescent City) and assess the toxic levels from leaked fuel. Santa Cruz officials peg their harbor’s damage amount at around $17 million.
One man, a 25-year-old from Bend, Ore., was washed away at the mouth of the Klamath River near Crescent City and has not been found. He was attempting to photograph the incoming surge.
I was fascinated to learn about Crescent City’s past regarding tsunamis. The town was devastated in a 1964 event and the harbor sustained major damage in a 2006 surge. The town’s coastal geography can be faulted, obviously, but the fishing industry there (the town’s main industry) should really look for an alternate harbor somewhere else.
Some good reporting to check out:
ENR’s Pam Radtke Russell and Debra Rubin update the damaged nuclear reactors here.
Dr. Miyamoto is quoted in this npr.org story about Japanese preparedness here.
And a continuing updated blog by ENR’s Tom Sawyer here.