Entries in Tsunami (18)


Tsunami Warning in Hawaii Downgraded to Advisory After Canada Quake

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory for the state of Hawaii this morning, following a 7.7 earthquake off the coast of British Columbia Saturday night.

Although waves up to six feet were predicted, the first waves that reached the islands were much smaller.

"We appear at this stage to be very, very fortunate," said Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Residents in low lying areas were evacuated.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said while the waves were not as big as expected, officials have to remain cautious.

"These events are capricious. They're dangerous. You have to always err on the side of safety," Carlisle said.

Carlisle told ABC News affiliate KITV that it is now safe for residents from the evacuated areas to return home and roads were reopening.

But Carlisle said he won't give the "all clear" because previous incidences show the danger might not be over.

"In some instances, after the last great warning, there was danger that lasted for two full days in certain areas. We do not want somebody to go into the water and risk that type of danger," he said.

The 7.7 quake that triggered the tsunami warnings was centered around an island north of Vancouver in Canada.

A 5.8 aftershock was reported just after the first earthquake.

No major damage has been reported.

Jay Albrecht with the National Weather Service said the quake's impact was felt as far south as San Francisco.

"There is a tsunami advisory that's been issued for the Southern Oregon and Northern California coast and that goes from about 80 miles northwest of San Francisco, northward to a location about 10 miles southwest of Florence, Ore.," Albrecht said.

Tsunami advisories were canceled for Canada and Oregon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan's Tsunami Debris to Hit US Sooner Than Expected

Sankei via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March created lasting images of houses, boats, cars and entire neighborhoods pulled out to sea. It also caused a massive sea of debris -- up to 20 million tons of it, all of it potentially toxic -- in an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

Now, seven months later, that floating debris is on a direct collision course with the Pacific Coast of the United States -- and it might be coming sooner than expected.

“Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day,” oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer told ABC News.

Early computer models predicted that the debris would not hit the United States for two to three years.  But a Russian training ship, the STS Pallada, following a map of the computer models, hit an extended field of debris in mid-Pacific, close to Midway Island, a U.S. territory about 1,700 miles from Hawaii.

The ship’s encounter with the 1,000-mile-long mass of tsunami debris came in September -- 300 miles ahead of schedule, and nearly 2,000 miles from the site of the tsunami in Japan.

The ship’s crew found a battered, 20-foot fishing boat marked “Fukushima,” the same spot in Japan that was ground zero for the tsunami.

The Pallada’s crew sailed through the debris, surrounded by everything from appliances and televisions to furniture, all of it now headed straight for Hawaii.

The first of it is expected to hit Midway Atoll this winter, then Hawaii in early 2013, and the U.S. West Coast -- mainly Washington and Oregon -- in early 2014.

Experts now estimate that lighter objects will wash ashore Midway’s beaches this winter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Earthquake off Alaska's Southern Coast; Tsunami Warning Issued

Stocktrek/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- A tsunami warning was issued for approximately 300 miles of Alaska’s southern coastline Friday, following a powerful early morning earthquake, only to be canceled shortly thereafter.

The earthquake, measuring a preliminary magnitude of 7.1, centered on the Eastern region of the Aleutian Islands, a chain Southwest of Alaska’s mainland.

"NO destructive tsunami has been recorded, and NO tsunami danger exists along the coasts of the U.S. west coast states, Alaska, and British Columbia," the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

"Anytime you get a 7 or a 7.1 quake capable of producing a tsunami, they throw out those tsunami warnings for areas that could be affected," said ABC News' weather editor Sam Champion.

There was no immediate word of damage or injuries as a result of the earthquake.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Search Mounts for American Teacher Missing in Japan

Family of Monty Dickson(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Monty Dickson's family has been on "Japan time" since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the city where Dickson teaches and lives.

"We sleep sporadically when we can and not much," Gloria Shriver, the mother-in-law of Dickson's sister, said.  "We're all having a very hard time."

Dickson, who is from Alaska, hasn't been heard from since the tsunami struck Japan.  He is a teacher with JET, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program where university graduates sign contracts with local governments in Japan to teach English at Japanese schools.

"We're still looking for him and still looking for information on him," said Matthew Gillam from the New York branch of the Japan Local Government Center.

Dickson's family are among a dwindling number of Americans clinging to hope as the hunt for survivors is now nearly two weeks old and search efforts are petering out.  The State Department now says it is focusing on less than 10 cases of Americans unaccounted for in the hardest hit areas of Japan.  Those cases came to their attention from loved ones like Dickson's family.

In the days following the quake, those numbers were much higher, but as electricity was turned on and cities began to rebuild, loved ones established contact with their missing relatives.

Dickson teaches in the small fishing village called Rikuzentakata.  It's located in the Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest hit regions.

Gloria Shriver's Anchorage, Alaska, home has become command central in the search for Dickson.  She is the mother-in-law of Dickson's sister, Shelley Frederickson.  The two, along with Dickson's brother, Ian, spend hours online searching for tips about the young man and calling officials to check in on the progress.  Relatives in Hawaii and even England are helping in the search.

Frederickson became Dickson's legal guardian when both of his parents died as a child.

The family last spoke to Dickson March 8, but his Japanese girlfriend spoke to Dickson in the hour after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the island on March 11, but before the massive tsunami hit.  Dickson told her that he and his students had evacuated to the town's civic center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden at Japanese Embassy Offers Condolences, Continued Assistance

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Biden made an unannounced visit Tuesday to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, where he left a message in the same condolence book that President Obama signed when he visited last week.

The Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, greeted the vice president, who told him, “We're going to stand with you.”

Fujisaki thanked Biden for the U.S. assistance since the earthquake on March 11. “It means a lot to us, we really appreciate it,” he said.

After a brief private conversation with the ambassador, Biden gave a short statement to the press pool that traveled with him to the embassy.

“It is almost beyond the ability of the human mind to understand the devastation of this natural disaster,” Biden said.

“What is equally hard to the resolve of the Japanese people,” he continued. “The stoicism in the face just an unimaginable tragedy.”

The vice president said that people around the world have been amazed by the “resolve the Japanese people, the orderly way in which they are dealing with” the continuing crisis.

He reiterated that “America will stand with Japan and do whatever we can to be of assistance.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Disaster: Body Found of First American Victim

Courtesy Julia Anderson(TOKYO) -- The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo believes it has identified the first American to die in Japan's devastating tsunami -- Taylor Anderson, 24, of Richmond, Va. -- according to U.S. officials.

Anderson's family has not positively identified the body, officials said. The State Department told ABC News that it was unable to confirm Anderson's death; however, her family released a statement on Monday.

"It is with deep regret that we inform you that earlier this morning we received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Japan that they had found our beloved Taylor's body. We would like to thank all those whose prayers and support have carried us through this crisis. Please continue to pray for all who remain missing and for the people of Japan. We ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time," the statement said.

Anderson was a teacher in the city of Ishinomaki as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program; she'd been participating in the program for two and a half years.

Jean Anderson told ABC affiliate WVEC-TV that her daughter was last seen after the earthquake. She was riding her bike toward her apartment after ensuring that students at her school had been picked up by their parents. The tsunami hit the shores of Ishinomaki shortly afterward.

The family received news Tuesday that she was safe and in a shelter but that information was false.

Ishinomaki is located in the Miyagi Prefecture, a coastal area that took the full force of the tsunami.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Environmental Groups Question Obama's Support for Nuclear Industry

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just as President Obama was publicly addressing the fallout from the cascading nuclear power plant disaster in Japan Thursday, the CEO of one of the largest nuclear power suppliers in the U.S. was lined up to speak at a closed-door gathering of top fundraisers for President Obama's reelection.

James E. Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, the nation's third largest nuclear energy supplier, was asked to lay out his fundraising plans for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, an effort he is undertaking as the host committee co-chair. The evening before, he was among those invited to join a discussion of the president's re-election fundraising plans at a private dinner in downtown Washington, D.C.

"It's troubling," said Dan Hirsch, a nuclear safety advocate in Southern California. Obama "is cozying up to large financial interests that might become donors and who wish our policy to be blind to the implications of this catastrophe."

Since his earliest days in the U.S. Senate, President Obama has had a close relationship with the nation's nuclear energy suppliers, and he brought his support for nuclear power with him to the White House. In his 2010 State of the Union address, he laid out his ambitions without ambiguity, calling for "building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country."

Obama has not only championed nuclear power, he has set aside millions of dollars for loan guarantees aimed at helping spur that new construction. His 2012 budget proposal calls for an additional $36 billion to triple the amount of money used to guarantee loans for nuclear plants.

So far one proposed plant in Georgia has been given a loan guarantee, completing a process that requires independent regulators to sign off on the design.

The White House points out that nuclear energy is just one piece of its portfolio as the president attempts to address global warming and curtail greenhouse gas emissions -- but that it accounts for 70 percent of the carbon-free energy currently being produced. And administration officials have long rejected suggestions that Obama is influenced by donors, noting that the president has had so many donors, supporters can be found on either side of just about any contentious issue.

"The administration's energy priorities are based solely on how best to build a 21st century, clean energy economy," said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman. "That policy is not about picking one energy source over another, in fact it is about setting a bold but achievable clean energy goal, and providing industry the flexibility on how best to increase their clean energy share."

That includes, he said, the "responsible development of a broad range of energy sources -- including renewables like wind, solar, and homegrown biofuels, as well as natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear power."

Still, Obama's contact with top executives in the nuclear industry, in particular, has attracted criticism from some quarters of the environmental community -- even from those who otherwise support him. The bulk of that attention has been focused on the nation's top nuclear supplier, the Exelon Corporation.

Exelon is a Chicago-based energy giant that has invested heavily in Obama's campaign, with two executives serving as top fundraisers in 2008, and more than $200,000 in contributions coming from the company's employees. Since the inauguration, Exelon Chairman John W. Rowe's name has appeared at least twice on White House visitor logs for appointments with then chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel, and USA Today reported that he was tapped by the Obama White House to help lobby Congress on climate change legislation.

Another major utility, Duke Energy, also has been building a record of support for Obama. In addition to overseeing the Democratic convention host committee, Rogers is also personally a donor, and his company recently agreed to guarantee a $10 million line of credit to help get convention planning underway -- an arrangement first reported by the Charlotte Observer last week.

Both Democratic National Committee officials and Will Miller, who is acting executive director of the committee overseeing the convention, said Duke Energy's offer to back the line of credit was intended to help Charlotte win in its bid to host the convention, and had nothing to do with the president.

"They thought it was good business to help secure the convention, which is good for the region," said Will Miller, acting executive director of the committee overseeing the convention. "Duke was interested in helping the bid and said they'd be glad to put up credit security to help enhance the bid."

Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams said Rogers's efforts are less about supporting Obama's reelection than they are about economic development for Charlotte, N.C., where the convention will be held. "He has supported both Republicans and Democrats," Williams said. "Duke supported the effort to attract the Republican convention in 2000. This is all about promoting Charlotte."

That said, Williams acknowledged the company does have a policy agenda in Washington, and has not been shy about pursuing it. Among the company's goals are climate legislation -- backed by the president -- that includes efforts to promote nuclear energy. They also support Obama's efforts to promote federal backing for nuclear plant construction. The company is considering building two reactors in South Carolina.

Some environmentalists tell ABC News the overlap of Obama's agenda and the industry's has at times made them uneasy. Now, scenes of smoldering nuclear reactors in Japan have heightened their concerns that the nuclear industry may have too much sway with this administration.

"Unfortunately, I think they have committed themselves to this position," said Dave Hamilton, the director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy program. "Even today, they seem resolute."

The president addressed the Japanese disaster and the fears it has stoked in the U.S. during remarks to the press on Thursday. From a podium in the Rose Garden, the president announced he has ordered a comprehensive review of the safety of domestic nuclear plants.

Obama reiterated his belief that nuclear power remains "an important part of our own energy future." He repeated a message that has been offered by the nuclear industry in recent days, saying that U.S. "nuclear power plants have undergone exhaustive study and have been declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies."

"When we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event, and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people," he said.

Williams, the Duke Energy spokesman, said the company agrees. "We need to continue to develop and advance it and learn from what happened in Japan," he told ABC News, adding, "You're not going to be able to address climate change without nuclear energy."

The president's remarks brought a different reaction from the group Friends of the Earth. "President Obama has talked a lot in the past about humility, but his continued support for dangerous new reactors looks more like hubris," said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S. "It's irresponsible and puts the public at risk."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Americans Less Generous in Japan Disaster Relief?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A week after Japan was crippled by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, there's little sign Americans are giving as feverishly, or as generously, to international relief efforts as they have before.

To compare, two days after an earthquake ravaged Haiti last year, American citizens text-messaged more than $5 million in donations to the Red Cross disaster relief effort.  Five days after the quake, the agency had raised more than $92 million for the cause.  And ten days after the disaster in Haiti, Americans gave more than $57 million during a two-hour telethon hosted by George Clooney and MTV.

But no telethon for Japan seems to be on the horizon.

"There has not been a telethon, which is driving me crazy," said Wayne Elsey, CEO of Soles4Souls, a charity he created following the 2004 South Asian tsunami.  Soles4Souls works with celebrities to collect and distribute shoes to people displaced by natural disasters.

"I'm not sure if it's fatigue, or if people don't see the magnitude of the problem, or they have other projects they're working on," Elsey said, "but there needs to be a bigger emphasis on this."

The American Red Cross said it raised $47 million for the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response through Wednesday afternoon, including more than $2.6 million in donations via text messages.  The amount is roughly half what it raised in the same period following the Haiti quake.

And while several other prominent U.S.-based aid groups, including Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, and World Vision also reported raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each in the past few days, some have decided not to raise money at all.

CARE USA, Oxfam American and Doctors Without Borders all opted not to directly fundraise for the Japanese relief effort, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

"With Haiti there was a lot of guilt about how poor the people were and how much suffering they endured.  But with Japan, it's a rich country, their GDP is similar to ours, and in many ways the needs of their people can be met by the Japanese government and the systems they have in place," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group.

"The point of charity is to address need.  Japan is not making desperate pleas for aid, and charities aren't going to do rebuilding.  That's going to be government and private insurance.  So people need to balance this with the problems in the rest of the world, even in our own country which has been hit by the recession," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


USGS Director : "Shame On Us If We Don't Learn From Their Misfortunes" in Japan

NASA via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Marcia McNutt, told a House Subcommittee Thursday morning there are a lot of lessons to be learned by scientists and by people in the United States from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Shame on us if we don’t learn from their misfortunes” she told the subcommittee. Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior Environment, and Related Agencies, McNutt stressed the importance of Japan’s earthquake early warning system saving “thousands of lives”.

McNutt also pointed to Japan’s earthquake engineering. The engineering of the buildings in Japan helped many of the buildings come thru the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.  McNutt told the subcommittee how the tsunami was the real killer in Japan, killing thousands of lives.  “We are much more fortunate than Japan,” she said, that the U.S. does not have many areas that can be affected by local tsunami hazards.

She also told the subcommittee that the United States continues to be on track to develop an earthquake early warning system for California.  But, USGS officials later explained to ABC News that the reality is the U.S. is way behind Japan in developing an earthquake warning system for California.  The U.S. still has approximately two more years before completing a prototype and the completion may be delayed further with expected cuts in the president’s upcoming 2012 budget.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Assesses Major Damage from Tsunami

ABC News(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii got off relatively easy last Friday compared to what the tsunami did to Japan.

Still, the nation's 50th state sustained tens of millions of dollars in damage from giant waves, although the initial estimate was lowered once state and county officials took a tour of the affected areas.

Those hardest included Kealakekua on the Big Island, Maalaea Harbor, Kahului on Maui, and Kona, where many businesses were flooded.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who toured the damaged areas Tuesday, acknowledged that the economic impact from the tsunami will be "profound."

The state is also expected to take another economic hit, since the Japanese are its biggest tourism clients and it's expected visits will dwindle dramatically for the foreseeable future.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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