Public Safety

10 Years Later – Remembering the Great Japan Tsunami and to Prepare

Sign that reads Tsunami Hazard Zone advising people to move away from water
The 2011 Tsunami in Japan is a reminder to prepare for emergencies and know what to do in the event of a local tsuami.

Ten years ago this month, the world watched as a 9.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the eastern coast of Japan.

The combined events caused over $360 billion in damage and washed 1.5 million tons of debris, including wrecked cars, buildings and homes, into the ocean. The tsunami also flooded Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, which melted its cores and leaked radiation. More than 18,000 people died, and many others were reported missing.

The California coast experienced over $100 million in damage. Locally, tsunami surges and strong currents caused flooding and minor damage, mainly to the boating community. The County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services and San Diego County’s hazardous materials division also worked with local, state and federal agencies to develop emergency plans to document and handle debris that could potentially wash ashore in the years following.

The events on March 11, 2011 have helped shape local and statewide emergency planning and preparedness efforts and serve as a lasting reminder of the importance of being prepared. While tsunamis are rare along San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline, it is important to know your risks and be prepared. Whether you work, live, or visit the coast, here are some simple and no-cost steps you can take to be this tsunami preparedness week to be ready for tsunamis:

The California Geological Survey has also put together a summary of the Japan Tsunami along with what happened to our coast, and the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group has compiled videos from tsunami observers in California.