Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami

March 11, 2011, 5:00 a.m.

My heart goes out to friends, indeed all, in Japan and the Pacific Rim

This video from NHK provides some sense of the damage wrought by the 10-meter waves as they hit one of Japan's cities, Sendai (in Miyagi Prefecture), following the 8.9 earthquake -- the worst in all of Japan's recorded history (and fifth worst in the history of the world).

Thanks to BBC World Service, I was able to follow the news on radio throughout the night, almost from the first reports.

Miraculously and thankfully, there appears to have been radically less damage (and death toll) from the earthquake than would be expected, with apparently almost all of Tokyo's high rise buildings still standing -- as a result of Japanese architecture,engineering, building codes, and lack of corruption among those charged with their enforcement.

While our thoughts are with the dead, injured, their families, and all caught up in this natural disaster, there are also lessons here for America's response to disasters, and the agencies charged with that responsibility, such as the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA. How Japan has responded today is a case study that those agencies should study closely and embed in their planning and training programs: the advance preparation, the almost instantaneous response and seemingly well organized and smooth coming together and working together of all conceivably relevant institutions and individuals, the relative calm and cooperation of the population, and the transparency and fulsome reporting by means of a variety of technology of what information sources knew when they knew it.

There is now, and will continue to be, no shortage of the still unfolding global news services' coverage in video, still pictures, on-scene reports, and mounting death toll. (I'm currently watching the live feed from the English language NHK World, carried by MSNBC.) So there's no real purpose or need to my trying to provide a running report and commentary here.

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