Members of Port Hardy’s Twinning Society were relieved this week to learn residents of their Japanese sister city of Numata escaped the worst of the damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that damaged many areas.
“Reports from people in Numata confirm that while there has been no damage to the town or loss of life, naturally they are very concerned about the disaster and the uncertainty about the nuclear reactors,” Mark Jones, chair of the Twinning Society, said in an email.
Numata, a town of about 5,000 people, is located well inland and at some elevation on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. While residents certainly felt shaking and suffered minor damage, the town was spared the collapsed buildings and devastating flooding of the tsunamis along much of the main island’s eastern coast.
“The Port Hardy Twinning Society sends their greatest condolences to the people of Japan who are struggling in the face of this disaster, especially to our friends in Numata who may have family in other parts of Japan where damage is much greater,” Jones wrote.
He added that members of the society had been planning a trip to Numata in August of this year, but are now in a “wait-and-see” mode until more is known about the travel situation and whether the city wishes to host a visiting delegation so soon after the quake.
Delegations from the communities have traded visits numerous times since Port Hardy and Numata became sister cities 15 years ago.
Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham shared the update with fellow directors Tuesday at the regular monthly meeting of the Regional District of Mount Waddington board.
“The Twinning Society is making some plans to find a way to help the people there,” Parnham said. “What they really need are our good wishes and to know we are thinking about them.”
Jones closed his email by sharing a message from Ayako, a girl from Numata who stayed with his family on an exchange visit in 2008:
In Japan, great confusion is taking place by an earthquake.
A lot of people die by an earthquake and a tsunami and lose a house and become separated from a family.
It is radioactivity to think that I am the fiercest.
A nuclear reactor explodes.
However, Numata is safe.
By an earthquake shook a little.
There was not the blackout in Numata.
Thank you for worrying.
All of us are safe!
I hope that a smile returns to all the Japanese people early.