Tsunami boat heads back home

Guest blogger Lorie Poole, Recycling Coordinator and Customer Service Representative at Recology Del Norte, on the bitter sweet experience of sending a boat brought to her town by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.


News travels fast in a small town.

The 20-foot boat washed up on Crescent Beach on April 7th. It belonged to a coastal fishing town of Rikuzentakata–a town in Japan unfortunate to have had the second-highest death toll from the 2011 tsunami.

We were preparing for Earth Day, so I quickly updated my Pacific Gyre/Beach Clean Up display to include beached tsunami debris in our list of targeted materials for the event. Soon, Lori Dengler, the Humboldt State University Geologist and tsunami researcher came up to Crescent City to research the boat. She was the one to discover that the boat belonged to the Takata High School’s marine science program.

Jeff Parmer, from the Crescent City Chamber of Commerce, explained that a local high school group headed by their teacher, Joyce Ruiz, was going to send the boat back to Japan.

Recology del Norte began coordinating with Commander Bill Stevens of the Sheriffs Office to help transport the boat. I wanted to see what we could do.

Mean while, the local students started fundraising. With help from the Crescent City maintenance crew, local property managers, and our area operations disaster management group, the students found a shipping company that would ship the boat for free. The students put together a video that they sent to the Takata students and have set up a donation page.

On the morning of September 4th I received a call from Bill asking for help transporting the boat to Menlo Park by September 16th. With such short notice, it seemed unlikely that we could help, but Tommy Sparrow, Recology Del Norte’s General Manager, was able to find a vehicle. It just so happened that an empty Recology truck was traveling in our direction. It was scheduled to pick up a load south of us, but one of Recology’s senior managers approved a stop in Crescent City and the boat was picked up the very next day.

I called Bill back. He was excited and instantly rushed to get all his contacts involved. Emails were flying. In just a matter of two hours the plan came together. The truck would be on site by 8AM on Thursday, the property manager would have the building open, the city maintenance crew would load the boat, two of the students would be there to say farewell to the treasured boat, and the Daily Triplicate would be there to tell the story.

The boat was delivered to the shipping company on Friday, September 6th. It will be packed and shipped on September 22nd. After a 14-day voyage, the ship is scheduled to reach Tokyo by October 6th.

The shipping company has arranged transport and storage for the boat until Takata High School can be rebuilt and prepare a space to put it on display.

Del Norte High students are working with city and county officials, as well as local clubs to raise money for 10 students and 3 adults to make a trip to Takata High School in Rikuzentakata, Japan. Many Del Norte officials are helping to foster a plan to become sister cities with Rikuzentakata.

This event has helped raise awareness about tsunamis and disaster preparedness in Del Norte County. Before this event, only one high school group had taken Community Emergency Response Training. Now two more classes are being scheduled.

Here’s a timeline and links to more info:

· Japan earthquake /tsunami, magnitude 8.9 with waves as high as 40 meters – March 11, 2011

· New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/asia/22missing.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 – March 21,2011

· Boat washes up on Crescent Beach – April 7, 2012

· Lori Dengler’s site: Lori Dengler – Tsunamis, earthquakes, geophysics, natural hazard mitigation, https://picasaweb.google.com/105862892016189181305/CrescentCityTsunamiBoat?authkey=Gv1sRgCNqP6t_Zs4qXUA&feat=email# – April 8, 2012

Del Norte Triplicate story: http://www.triplicate.com/News/Local-News/Tsunami-boat-to-move-to-new-site – June 10, 2013 and a more recent story: http://www.triplicate.com/News/Local-News/Symbol-of-hope-starts-journey-home-to-Japan

· Student to Student video: http://www.delnorte.org/news/tsunami-boat-student-to-student-video

· http://studentsrebuild.org/blog/2013-07-22/amazing-journey-japan July 22, 2013

· High school fundraiser page: http://www.gofundme.com/3vvsgc

Photos by Adam Spencer, courtesy of Del Norte Triplicate.

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