Why Aren’t We Helping the U.S. Tsunami Victims?–Japan is Not the Only Country in Need


Remains of the Crescent City California Harbor

I was hit with such sorrow today as I read through several articles in Oregon and Northern California newspapers referring the tsunami destruction and devastation that has been felt in these areas. Multiple harbors have been destroyed and are in ruins, yet we have seen so little of this covered in the news. If I had not gone looking for it I would not be aware of the destruction that took place in the United States.

Crescent City, CA., was hit the hardest by the March 11th Tsunami here in the states. There were 16 boats that were sunk and 47 damaged and possibly still sinking. The entire dock system and much of the harbor was destroyed. Not to mention the fact that 4 people were pulled into the sea–one of which has never returned.

Next, if you move north a few miles into Oregon, you will find the same kind of destruction in Brookings harbor. 80 percent of the dock structure was destroyed, seven boats were swept out to sea, multiple boats damaged and several sunk. This is certainly minor in comparison to Japan, but it is devastating for those living there.

These are small fishing communities that depend on these boats and harbors for their livelihood and without them they have nothing. While many fishermen were able to escape  the damage early Friday morning in both Brookings and Crescent City by taking their boats out to sea, now they have no harbor in which to keep their boat.

And what about Hawaii, particularly the Big Island which was hit the hardest. There were multiple beach-front homes that were significantly damaged. In fact, one home was completely swept away into the ocean. Many hotels and local businesses suffered severe property losses and now are struggling to get things cleaned up and repaired so that they may return to business.

So here is my question, completely understanding and agreeing that the massive amount of destruction in Japan demands our attention and help. Are those affected largely (although on a smaller scale in comparison, but just as devastating to them personally) not deserving of our help? Or at least deserving of more news coverage?

I am just in shock that I see “Japan Tsunami Relief” signs everywhere I go whether I’m out shopping or on the internet. Yet nowhere have I seen any sign of anyone asking for help for those in California, Oregon and Hawaii.

Maybe some of you have helped those in need locally but to be honest I have not seen the outpour of help for these people like I have seen for those in Japan. Again, I am not saying that helping the Japanese in their time of need is wrong. In fact I absolutely believe what they have experienced and are continuing to experience is horrific. However, I am asking why can’t we help those close to us as well?

To be honest I am not sure why I have been so worked up about this one other than I feel like our news has completely overlooked and downplayed the devastation that is happening right here in our own country. Can you imagine coming home to see that your house is floating away into the ocean? But even more importantly, is there many of you that had any idea that these things had taken place?

I know we can’t help everyone and I know that our country is in a time of economic struggles, but if you are going to help those in need clear across the Pacific then don’t you think that something should be done to help those in your own country affected by the same natural disaster?

Why am I so bothered by this? All three of these areas hold a special place in my heart and more than likely that is why I am disappointed in all of us for not stepping up and helping.

When I was a little girl, my grandpa spent part of each year commercially fishing and crabbing out of the Crescent City harbor. I would spend long weekends visiting them and enjoying all that this small community had to offer. I learned to love the ocean and all of its creatures. I caught my first crab on the docks and spent many afternoons fishing from either a floating dock or my grandpa’s tied up boat. I had some of my greatest experiences in that town, other than the day I ripped my blankie on the rocks down at the beach–I was four, so obviously my blankie and I were inseparable. But even that day was made perfect when my grandma went to the fabric store and picked up some perfectly matching yarn and she came home and knitted my blankie back together again. So to say the least, Crescent City is full of childhood memories for me.

Then as I got older and my grandparents stopped spending months at a time in Crescent City, my family eventually discovered Brookings. This town had amazing state parks and great beaches to explore. My parents would take me down to the harbor to watch the fishermen come in with their daily catch. I would stand in awe at the fish cleaning station and I watching these huge fish being loaded up and cleaned. As a child it was all very fascinating. Then they would take me over to this tiny restaurant where I would always have a bowl of the best clam chowder ever. To this day I have never had a better bowl of clam chowder than could be ordered there. Although, I don’t believe that restaurant still remains under the same ownership,  the last time I was there the building still stood intact. I just hope that it was not damaged as well.

Then there is Hawaii, and although I did not spend time on the Big Island I did spend several years living on Maui. Obviously this is an area that feeds off of the tourism. Can you imagine anyone wanting to go and visit the areas hit and destroyed by this tsunami? Let’s see, do I stay in a hotel that has no damage and is beautiful and picturesque just like the magazines or do I stay in a hotel that is working on repairing and cleaning up a mess. So not only are these businesses taking a loss from the damage but they are also taking a loss from a lack of business.

My husband and I have spent a great deal of time in all three of these areas and while they may not be on your radar, they are important to others.

So again, why are we not helping these communities? Do we just assume they all have insurance and it will cover the damage? Obviously I cannot speak for these people, but from what I have read in Oregon and Northern California, most of those hurt by this disaster do not have insurance. Many of those affected there were struggling to survive as it was and were hoping for a prosperous fishing season this year. Now without boats and harbors, they are at a loss and trying to figure out how they are going to make it. If it wasn’t hard enough for them before the tsunami, now they see no hope.

And for those in Hawaii, let’s pretend that insurance will cover it–will that make up for the loss in revenue? I doubt it. Does that make things any easier for the family whose home is floating around in the ocean? We all know how tight money is these days, do you really think that the state is going to want to spend all of the money it will need to cover the manpower to clean up the mess made by the tsunami? Everything adds up and for those in Hawaii, this is devastating as well.

So here is what I propose–Give to Japan but while you are doing that, give to Crescent City, Brookings and Hawaii. Let’s say you gave $1 to Japan, will it hurt you to give the same to these areas? Every dollar will add up and with all of our help, everyone affected can hopefully receive the help they deserve.

Donations are accepted at the following locations:

The Redwood Regional Rotary Relief Super Fund, c/o The Humboldt Area Foundation, P. O. Box 99, Bayside, Calif. 95524, www.hafoundation.org All donations will go to aid Crescent City fishermen whose boats were sunk or damaged and those fishermen who lost their jobs due to the Crescent City tsunami.

For Hawaii victims, please contact the Hawaii Red Cross Chapter at http://www.hawaiiredcross.org/

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One Response to “Why Aren’t We Helping the U.S. Tsunami Victims?–Japan is Not the Only Country in Need”

  • James O:

    So, where is the union support for these poor lost souls? Many fishermen are members of a local union (sometimes required). The unions should be providing support.

    Why would so many people NOT have insurance?? I asked around here in Massachusetts, and everybody I spoke with said of course they are insured, that fishing is their livelihood, and even if it were not, the docks they tie up at require insurance. Is it really so different on the west coast?

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