Local Japanese-Americans are still trying to contact friends and family they have not been able to reach due to widespread power and communications outages in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan.
Sunao Shimada, a pastor at San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church, has family in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. He was able to reach them on Friday.
“My wife’s mother, in the house you know, everything is broken, dishes dropped from the shelves," he said, “They evacuated the local community, they are afraid about the tsunami. They said it still comes in often.”
Shimada is scheduled to fly to Japan Tuesday. He said he hadn't yet been able to get information about whether the flight would be cancelled.
With relief efforts underway in response to the disaster, The American Red Cross is reporting a quick response from Bay Area communities.
“We have had an outpouring of support from our local community and we appreciate their support” Red Cross Spokesperson Caitlin Cobb said.
The Red Cross is asking that folks not send supplies, as they are working with agencies in Japan that have supplies such as clothes and food strategically placed throughout the country. Instead they are encouraging those wanting to help to make financial donations.
Sachi Monastiero, director of Sakura Gakuen Japanese Language School in Pleasanton, said in an email Saturday to Patch that many of the school's 300 students have friends and family in Japan.
The school is organizing a fund drive to help the Red Cross with its efforts.
The Red Cross has established three methods for submitting donations; visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-888-4-HELP-BAY, or texting, “REDCROSS” to 90999. The Latter will make an automatic donation of $10 through your wireless carrier.
The massive quake, measured at 8.9 on the Richter scale, struck at 2:46 p.m. local time on Friday some 80 miles off the coast of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, in Japan’s northeast region. The quake triggered a tsunami, which sent a 23-foot wall of water hurling through towns and villages.
The quake was the largest in Japan’s history since the beginning of record keeping. It was the world's fifth-largest quake since 1900.
More than 100 aftershocks have struck off the northeast coast of Japan in roughly the same area as Thursday night's major earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The majority of those aftershocks have had magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.9, although a few dozen have been even larger.
Gov. Jerry Brown directed the state's Emergency Management Agency to make state resources available to the Japanese government, and he said the state is standing by to provide assistance. Brown also urged Californians living into follow all instructions from state and federal response agencies related to the emergency.
Brown issued a state of emergency in four counties across the state, including San Mateo and and Santa Cruz. Hundreds of people gathered near the coasts in San Francisco and Santa Cruz to larger than average surge against the shore despite warnings for residents to steer clear of beaches and low-lying areas.
One man was swept out to sea in Northern California's Crescent City not far from the Oregon border. He went missing while snapping photographs of the swollen waves with two friends. The Coast Guard searched for the man for more than seven hours, but suspended that search this evening.
Several other officials -- including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom; San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; and state Attorney General Kamala Harris, among others -- also issued statements conveying their feelings of sadness over the tragedy and expressing concerns for Japan's recovery.
"As the surges of the tsunami waves on our shores demonstrate, we are connected to Japan, touched by its tragedy," Harris said. "In coming days, Californians, along with all Americans, must focus on helping Japan rebuild and recover," she said.
***Click on the accompanying video file to hear an interview about relief efforts with a local Red Cross official.
Bay City News contributed to this report.