A 24 foot barnacle-encrusted vessel, a panga boat from Japan, washed to shore on the beach in Crescent City, California and will be the first confirmed piece of tsunami debris from the 2011 Japanese event that devastated the town of Rikuzentakata, Japan. The vessel travelled from Rikuzentakata's Takata High School after a journey that spanned two years and 4,800 miles.
The students of Del Norte High School, Crescent City, California, felt it would be appropriate to clean the vessel and return it to the coastal town of Rikuzentakata as a gesture of compassion and as a reminder of the ties that bind the two cities, located an ocean apart but linked by the waves. Crescent city also suffered a tsunami in 2011, but not nearly as severe as Rikuzentakata, where 1 in every 13 people perished.
Since we have this connection there are plans in the works for Crescent City and Rikuzentaka to become sister cities.
John Steven a student at Del Norte High School, Crescent City organized a group of students to clean the vessel to return to Japan. Del Norte High School would love to send a small group of good will ambassadors with the vessel to further the connection between students of California and Japan.
The vessel will be returned to Takata High School in the fall of 2013 so the students have been fund-raising to make the trip, but need help.
Humboldt State University geologist and tsunami researcher Lori Dengler posted a photograph of the vessel to Rikuzentakata,s Facebook page after recognizing Japanese characters of the town's name. Within hours the vessel had been linked to Takata High School's marine science program. Federal agencies did confirm the boat's origin through official channels until weeks later.
Rikuzentakata city officials have already arranged funding and logistics to have the vessel returned to them, but instead of throwing the vessel in a box and sending it to Rikuzentakata, the idea is to send a Del Norte and Humboldt delegation to present the vessel to the town.
"It's cool because we are a small fishing community and they are a small fishing community, so we are helping someone that is a lot like us," said John Steven, who compared the vessel to Rikuzentaka's "miracle pine tree."
The 88-foot tree was another symbol of hope for the Japanese town, as it was the only one out of 70,000 pine trees that was left standing after the tsunami. When the tree started to die later from seawater damage, Rikuzentakata city officials cut it down, treated the wood with preservative, inserted a metal skeleton, and replicated the leaves and branches using synthetic resin. The restored tree was completed in March, just in time for the two-year anniversary of the tsunami.
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