The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Head Over Water

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent catastrophes occurring in Japan has the world’s attention and empathy. At this time, an upwards of 10,000 people are thought dead, approximately $35billion dollars is estimated in damages, and the country is far from regaining any stability. Turn on a news channel to find the incredible power of the Pacific Ocean plowing through cityscape and countryside alike. It is in times of crisis such as this that we see the progress of humanity in terms of technological advancement responding to natural disasters.
Following the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake, Japan tightened building codes to include hydraulic pads, spring dampening systems, and reinforced steel bracings to withstand the numerous tremors of the region. These preventative measures, along with mandated earthquake and tsunami evacuation drills, helped to limit the death toll in this crisis. While the rest of the world is seemingly up in arms, eyewitness account relays that the demeanor of the Japanese people in areas affected has been relatively calm. Social networking has been a key tool for communication and rescue efforts, with Twitter reporting an upwards of 1200 tweets per minute in Japan currently. Other websites such as Google’s People Finder--which allows users to either search for missing persons or submit information about individuals whereabouts--and Youtube’s Citizen Tube--providing up to date videos and reporting about breaking news in the world--have opened networks to a seamless worldwide communication.
This level of accessibility to witness natural disasters essentially firsthand has increased public awareness exponentially. Along with the awareness comes a heightened sense of vulnerability. If Japan--a country so prepared for both earthquake and tsunami dangers--is still declaring the worst crisis since WWII, it makes other fault-proximate regions question their preparation. California has been well aware of the damages from medium strength earthquakes and has implemented many stricter building codes, but none have surpassed the 8 magnitude for over a century. How the state, or West Coast in general, would respond to the next big earth quake--considered long overdue by the Southern California Earthquake Center--is questionable. The evacuation procedures so evident in Japan are largely unimplemented stateside, leaving huge vulnerabilities in the way that citizens would be fending for themselves in a free for all manner. A surging tidal wave through the streets of Los Angeles would be pure anarchy, especially given the lack of alert systems for immediate threats and lack of practical experience in evading these disasters. Perhaps the most significant danger is the status of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which have remained largely safe even with the onslaught of quakes and waves and explosions. Questions of efficient energy sources aside, the potential for nuclear fallout is a massive issue and one that relates to local preparation, given the proximity of San Onofre’s nuclear plant to all of Southern California.
Ultimately, natural disasters are an inevitability that can only be addressed with proper preparation and a quick rescue response. Along with sending thoughts and prayers to victims of the disaster, donations of money and supplies are greatly needed. Citizens surviving in ravaged districts now face immense shortages of food and water. Websites such as Charity Navigator provide extensive evaluations of legitimate charities to send donations through. Please do as much as you feel possible in assisting fellow humans revive their well-being in the face of such tribulation.

Weston Finfer


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