OREGON HIT BY TSUNAMI WAVES CAUSED BY JAPAN EARTHQUATE; COASTAL RESIDENTS EVACUATE
Ian Saleh Washington Post Staff
Oregon's coastal residents cleared out ahead of the first waves of a tsunami to hit the U.S. mainland, but the effects were minor in Port Orford.
Motel operator Rockne Berge (buhrg) says that from 130 feet up on a bluff above the beach, he saw a band of wet sand 40 yard to 50 yards wide - an indication of a wave larger than usual.
City Administrator Mike Murphy says the waves surged between about the levels for high and low tide. He says that so far, there's been no damage, and the city's low-lying areas have been evacuated. Most of the city is on higher ground.
The earthquake off Japan's coast sent waves across the Pacific Ocean, killing hundreds. As Chico Harlan reported:
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the 8.9-magnitude earthquake was the strongest in the country's history. Television footage showed towering waves surging toward the northeastern shoreline, pulling cars into the water and knocking boats and buildings onto their sides.
Initial forecasts warned of potential devastation throughout the Pacific Rim, including Hawaii, and reaching east around the globe to the continental United States. But the waves that reached Hawaii about 8 a.m. Washington time were relatively modest, and officials said the tsunami would have minimal impact on the West Coast.
Japan's Kyodo News agency said between 200 and 300 bodies were found near Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the population center nearest the epicenter of the quake.
As tsunami waves moved towards the U.S., President Obama said FEMA is ready to aid states and respond to damage. As AP reported:
President Barack Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to come to the aid of Hawaii and West Coast states as needed. Coast Guard cutter and aircraft crews were positioning themselves to be ready to conduct response and survey missions as soon as conditions allow.
Scientists warned that the first tsunami waves are not always the strongest. The threat can last for several hours and people should watch out for strong currents.
U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Ken Hudnut said residents along the coast should heed calls for evacuation if local emergency planners order them.
"Do the right thing," Hudnut said. "Be safe."
More from The Washington Post
Interactive: Sendai Earthquake 2011
Live Blog: Japan earthquake and tsunami
VIEW PHOTO GALLERY