Friday, March 11, 2011

No Tsunami Danger for Odyssey

Thanks for all the welfare inquiries we've had over the last few hours. I wanted to get a quick post up to let everyone know that, while we are just a couple miles from Monterey Bay and the ocean (map), we are on high ground, 200' above MSL, and are in no danger from the tsunami waves which have already begun to come ashore here. The largest wave crests have yet to arrive; we expect them to continue for the next two hours with the peak an hour or so from now.

We were alerted to the situation in Japan through our twitter streams, perhaps just twenty minutes or so after the main quake. Of course, we've done nothing since but follow the coverage on line and on television. I was up past 3am watching the ongoing updates from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the West Coast Tsunami Warning Center. Our position here less than two hours from San Jose International makes me one of the closest possible Technology responders for any American Red Cross relief operations in Hawaii, Guam, Midway, the Marianas, and most of the west coast, and I am on the Alert List this month.

Fortunately so far the U.S. has escaped any major impact from the tsunami. There were reports of 5'-6' wave heights and minor coastal inundation on some of the Hawaiian islands and there has been minor damage up and down the west coast, including an overturned boat here in Monterey Bay. However nothing so far is of a magnitude that warrants anything beyond a local response. We have a small but dedicated and highly talented Technology team in Hawaii already, for example.

Of course, the same can not be said for Japan itself, where the Japanese Red Cross has already mobilized all its major assets. It has been heartbreaking to watch the video coming out of Japan, and yet impressive at the same time. While the damage is extensive and the death toll continues to climb, it is a testament to Japan's high level of preparedness and strict building codes that the damage and carnage is not much greater. Of all the nations of the world, Japan is unquestionably the most earthquake-ready and also the most tsunami-ready. We here in the U.S. can even learn a thing or two from the Japanese.

This seismic event is poised to become the most expensive natural disaster in human history, surpassing Hurricane Katrina. Yet I expect the death toll to be far lower than that of the Haiti earthquake last January, even though this event was roughly 700 times more powerful. It will be interesting to see how the response and recovery is managed by this first-world nation, as it will give us some insight into what a similar event might be like here on our own shores.

I know many of our readers will want to know how to donate to support the relief operations stemming from this event, and I hope to have some kind of link up here on the blog as soon as it is available to us. In the meantime I have been informed by official channels that texting RedCross to 90999 will result in a $10 donation that will be set aside for Japan relief.

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