Volunteers and government workers are regularly patrolling the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. They are looking for, and picking up, debris that has come ashore from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. From the islands off Alaska to Washington and Oregon, more and more debris is being found on the shore that clearly originated in Japan.
One of the most iconic photos to appear after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan was that of a house, floating alone in the sea. The U.S. Navy photo illustrates the nature of the tsunami, which not only damaged buildings ashore but swept debris from the shore out to sea. Estimates vary on the amount of debris but KITV-4 in Hawaii quotes experts as saying it may range from five to twenty million tons.
The U.S. Military’s role is to assist and augment the efforts and capabilities of the Japanese government by cleaning schools, providing showers and kerosene, handing out backpacks and playing music for displaced citizens.
Watabe sees hope for the children because of the role the joint efforts of the U.S. and Japanese military.
“There were 400 people huddled together that night offering encouragement to each other,” Watabe said. “Thank you for helping to clean the schools so that eventually the children can come back.”
The U.S. military continues to assist the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible Defense Deparment family members. To date, a total of 7,001 eligible family members, including 394 pets, have been transported in the voluntary authorized departure, known as Operation Pacific Passage. Most families choosing to temporarily relocate were transported by military contract aircraft. The few remaining family members will be transported over the next few days.