Post by Mike Klassen in


Kamaishi destroyed by an oncoming tsunami

I'm holding back my emotions watching this YouTube clip showing a tsunami lay waste to the coastal town of Kamaishi. It's a humbling example of the power of nature, something that the coastal town of Vancouver, B.C. is long overdue for.

We created an earthquake preparedness kit a couple of years ago, and it's time for us to check our supplies. Has any food item perished? Are batteries still fresh for flashlights? Do we have things that can comfort us in inclement weather? Where will our water supply come from? How long must we get by without electricity? How will those of us in our household reconnect if there is a large earthquake? What number could we call out of town to let each other know we're safe? Where will we marshal together after a catastrophe? How will we communicate when phone, internet and mobile service is down for an extended period? Do we have a radio which runs without batteries?

We're going to be updating our kit this weekend. Here's a good list with ideas on what you need for yours.

There are so many images coming from Japan now, but this one of hundreds of collapsed shipping containers really struck me as to the power of Thursday's earthquake.

- post by Mike


This video is so powerful.

It kills me when people deny that a tsunami or severe flooding could affect Vancouver. There are always excuses: the island will block it, the water is too shallow, the direction isn't right... But if you look at a map of Japan and some of the places overwhelmed by water, they aren't a direct path from the epicenter.

How many people in Richmond know what to do if the water level rose by a metre, or two? Do we actually have a system in place that would give people the hour needed to get to higher ground?

It's scary.

Earlier Glissando Remy brought up the issue of the condition of our schools should such a catastrophe strike us here. Jessica Webb's article in the Straight concisely sums up the present situation.


This has been an issue as long as I and my friends have had children at school yet there has been nothing but delay after delay in making our schools safe. Meanwhile we have seen tragedy strike in Japan, New Zealand, China....

As Education Minister Christy Clark did SFA as far as I remember regarding this problem, but as Premier she needs to get a grip on the issue from the day of her inauguration. Every other issue we discuss is trivial compared to the potential disaster that the tardiness of the seismic upgrade program leaves hanging over us.

I'd encourage everyone to contact their various representatives and make it clear that they must take responsibility and deal with this now.

we need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of saving old brick buildings to preserve some of our heritage and the reality that to replace them would not only be cheaper than a seismic upgrade, they would also be infinitely safer.

I must confess, I have been a procrastinator when it comes to an earthquake plan. Not any more. I just sent my family your link to the preparedness site and challenged them to help me create some sort of plan about how we would find each other in such a disaster.

Several world events both natural and man-made have shown me that we are truly on our own for at least 72 hours before we could expect any sort of help. We are all a little naive to think otherwise.

Japan is a little too close for comfort - and they were well prepared. It is going to take years for Japan to recover.

My thoughts and prayers are with them.

The Thought of The Day

“First – Extrapolation doesn’t count when you deal with earthquakes. Second – Preparedness works only if you sit on the top of your First Aid & Supplies Kit, if you have one, when the earthquake struck. Third – in the case the building you’re in, is falling on your head though, forget about the first two.”

Remember that nine years old stupid boy? And how he stepped over the ants’ nest in his parents’ backyard? And what did he do right after? He peed on it. Now, do you remember? I do. Earthquake and Tsunami – Ants’ size.
What did the ants do? Did they panic? Sure. They scattered every which way. Were they prepared for this? Nope. They thought they were. But later, they returned, counted their losses and start rebuilding.

Same here. Only with humans.

During my lifetime due to my parent’s travels and later due to my business travels, I found myself in the middle of three earthquakes. From 6.5 to 7.4 on the Richter scale. One was a normal dip-slip, the other two were strike-slip. Loss of life and wounded in all of them. A hundred or more of aftershocks in the 5ths on the Richter scale. Two of them happened during night time the third in the middle of the day. I experienced them in buildings on the 4th and on the 8th floors, the third one, I was walking down the street.

To this day I still remember in great detail the moments when all of them happen, the shake, the smells, the glass exploding, the wooden window frames screeching, the scared faces of the people around me, buildings wiggling like willow trees in the wind or shaking as they were possessed by demons, lampposts that almost touched the top of larger cars, and cars on the road with drivers oblivious to the fact that a quake was going on thinking that something went wrong with their car’s steering. The power (light) was the first to go. Communication with the outside world was second. Forget your cellphones. They rely on transmission towers too. In the darkness I could hear cabinets tilting over, I could feel framed pictures hitting my shoulder while falling to the floor, and bumping into people that were as scared as I was. During my second one and after witnessing the rug in the big office room moving like waves on a furious sea, I remember saying out loud ‘We’re F@*&d!’ Yap, that’s all I said folks, if I’m honest. Forget about what they say, that your life flashes in front of your eyes, a 64 frames per second movie of your life, grandpa and grandma, first kiss, first beer,.. It’s all pish. Good thing, the following day no one remembered what I’ve said.
‘We’re F*&*d!’ that was my philosophically best.

The interesting thing is all these earthquakes seemed to have something in common. They all started sudden, there was a powerful wind out of the blue noticed even from the inside of a well noise insulated building, than the wind died as if disconnected from a wind machine abruptly. A hallow sound coming from nowhere followed. For a couple of minutes there was quietness in the air. And then the shake started.

You want my two cents on the future of Vancouver? I don’t know what to say, I cannot predicted it and I can’t give it to you. As a matter of fact nobody knows. If someone tells you the opposite they are lying to you. Maybe the Vision boys can tell. Telling the future is their racket for they seem to know a lot of things in advance.


There are too many things to consider:

- Logistically speaking, the quake time, of either day or night, is important.
- Response time and access of the Emergency crews matters the most.
- You as a civilian being in the vicinity of a collapsed building don’t help. You can’t do Jack. Some creeps may take snapshots. That’s all.
- Distance from the Epicentre matters
- Depth at which the earthquake occurred is another important variable
- Duration (in seconds) of the tremor
- Type of the earthquake.
- Concrete frame, wood frame, old vs. new (I saw new houses collapsed due to bad construction)
Falling debris. Panic. Looting. Fire. Hysteria. Worry for the family members and friends you cannot reach. Lack of communication. Luck. You have to be F*&%g lucky! Now, do you feel lucky? Do you?

You have to take all the above into consideration. Add to that a tsunami as a possibility and if you’re trapped your odds are pretty glum. Basically your chances for survival are as good as the first Response Services are organized and on how the City’s Administration is prepared to deal with a calamity. Speaking of which, If it happens today, all I can say is…’We’re F@*&*d!’

For what is worth here’s what I wrote on City Caucus last night.
Here it goes…

The Thought of The Evening

“While everyone talks about the addiction of gambling, dirty politics, and green roofs…Japan is hurting.”

I feel like an arse to think I posted three comments on green roofs while the situation in Japan following today’s earthquake and the accompanying tsunami went from worse to horrendous.

Why am I bringing this up? Because when this kind of tragedy will hit Vancouver’s coast, the magnitude of the local damage will make Japan’s look like a kids play.

Instead of throwing money into the BIG Empty (Vancouver Convention Centre West and its ‘grand’ Green Roof), into a BC Place Roof that’s as useful to Vancouverites as two Playboy centrefolds to a 90 years old fart; into a stupid two weeks party, already long forgotten and a T-shirt with ‘I went to Vancouver Winter Olympics and all I’ve got left with is this pair of Red mittens’; instead of selling out BC Rail for scrap, same as we did with the BC Ferries, and also selling our water to foreigners maybe we should have looked at the future of this city and region with professionalism.

Most of the public school buildings in Vancouver are still standing due to… gravity, and paint. Not a chance in Hell.
The West End have become so crowded, the biggest damage will come from falling debris,fire and panic. The west side, parts of downtown and…the Olympic Village will wash their laundry in…public.
Far South, Richmond will become mush and you would wish not to be due for landing at the former YVR during the ‘happening’.

People in general, think they can put together the best evacuation plans and first aid schemes and bury the biggest pipes in the ground, earthquake proof, and it will still be good for Zip.

And if it wasn’t enough that we are ‘blessed’ with the most incompetent, pathetic and corrupt Council, Mayor and City Senior Bureaucrats in decades, and we’ve just been punk’d courtesy of the BC Liberal lowlifes with Christy ‘the Medusa’ Clark. Just don’t look her in the eyes!

Talking about gambling. Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing in Las Vegas for good, due to bleeding money to death in the past two years. Apparently half of the ‘Rat Pack’ is moving to Vancouver. That would be the ‘Rat’ part.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Glissando Remmy | March 12, 2011 12:52 AM | Reply

I remember the last article on CHCH.
THIS earthquake was 1000 times more powerful. I brought up the points that WE are not prepared, and that THEY (the scientists) don't tell us the REAL dangers of some communities because it affectes BILLIONS if not TRILLIONS of dollars of real-estate like Richmond and Delta that could all face such an water event due to there elevation.

Well, if you needed evidence, Japan is the most prepared for earthquakes with building codes and warning systems. Look what good it did.

Nature doesn't pick how strong to shake based on building code.

Don't forget your pets. Have food and any medical necessities in an emergency pack for them as well.


have a look at this... I suspect we would be hooped.

@Loxy @Sharon I picked up this link from a comment on Frances' blog.


It's an old web applet which shows what a full-scale tsunami hitting the west coast of Vancouver Island might do, and if anyone thinks that Metro Vancouver will be spared, think again. No question that YVR would be out of commission in a scenario like this, and Boundary Bay.

Thank You Mike

My wife was in Tokyo during the earthquake. It took her six hours to get to a pick up point (walking) and 24 hours to get home. I have many friends in Sendai. Fortunatly none were killed though one lost his house.

Time to think about how Vancouver becomes a more reslient city. The schools are a big issue for sure. As is training. We should have an annual simulation and training event. I was impressed at how well the people in Japan reacted and how well they are coping. I hope the relief effort is more effective and better managed than Kobe was.

Interesting note - Internet services held up much better than cell services. I was able to contact people who were using ther phones with Skype on wifi reasonably reliably. My wife only had a Softbank cell phone and it was out for about 12 hours. I think DoCoMo was a bit better. I wonder if the cell network should be redesigned using the principles used for the Internet. Landlines worked better than cell, but not as well as Internet. But there are relatively few public phones left in Japan, they have been replaced by cell phones, and even when people could find one that was working there were long lines.

And thanks for the list. I have posted to my Fb.

Amazing photos and video footage. Thanks guys...I guess. Good I didn't see them before I went to bed last night. Amazing take from Glissando. You really were lucky, buddy! Great insight. I wish I would never have to experience anything like this in my lifetime. My heart goes out to the people of Japan.

I used to live in Kamaishi. In fact, I worked in one of the buildings the video shows being swept off its foundation.

This was so heartbreaking to watch. I hope that most were able to get to high ground before the water hit.

Steven Forth
thoughts and prayers go out to your wife and friends....
I realize this is a difficult time for you...take care

Hi Mike,

I used to live in Osaka for five years. My son (9) lives in Nara. I was wondering,: is there any way to get a hold of authorities in Kamaishi to tell them that I and my wife would love to have a home stay student here in montreal for a couple of months or so for free? No expenses? No food, no rent, no nothing (except their personal stuff)?

I want to give but I don't want to just give to some faceless entity like Red Cross -- that's just not in my genes.

If you know a contact address please let me know. I'm in Montreal. nick@montrealfood.com



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