Alberni’s twin city in Japan escapes quake’s wrath

Abashiri - Port Alberni's twin city in Japan - escaped the devastating earthquake and tsunami that leveled the country's north east coast. But homestay families have friends and relatives who have been affected.

Shinko Tsunoda acted as an interpreter with a group of students and chaperones who visited Port Alberni from Abishiri

Port Alberni’s sister city in Japan was spared from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that obliterated the country’s north east coast.

Abashiri isn’t part of the area that was devastated last Friday morning, said Twinning Society coordinator Sherrie McKinnon.

“Abashiri was under a tsunami warning like we were but there’s been no damage that I’m aware of,” McKinnon said.

After recovering from the shock of watching the events in Japan, McKinnon thought about the Abashiri exchange visitors, who were here in Port Alberni last January.

“The farmland that was enveloped by the tsunami looked identical to farmland in Abashiri,” McKinnon said. “It could just as easily have been them.”

McKinnon has been in contact with Shinko Tsunoda, who served as an interpreter with the Abashiri group when they were here.

“She sounded quite shaken by the whole thing,” McKinnon said.

“She said that there’s whole sections of Japan that are obliterated and that the death told will likely be in the tens of thousands.”

Tsunoda has been in contact with Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae after the last Friday’s event but their talk was short.

“She couldn’t talk long though because the Japanese government asked them not to tie up the phone lines,” McKinnon said.

Many families from Abashiri have friends and relatives in the affected areas, McKinnon added.

“A lot of people are asking the same question: what’s Japan’s future going to be?”

Some local host families have been in contact with McKinnon about what’s happened.

“They’re relieved that Abashiri is alright, but sad at the time about what’s happened.”

The Twinning Society’s 25th anniversary is this August and a visit by an Abashiri is in the offing.

“I don’t know if it will happen now, but we’ll see,” McKinnon said.

A group of local students was planning to go to Abashiri in July and has been fundraising for the trip.

A tag day is scheduled for April as part of the fundraising, but its scope may change.

“We’re hoping to use it raise money for the Red Cross relief effort in Japan instead,” McKinnon said.

“We’re hoping we can make this happen.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inquest into death of Jocelyn George postponed due to COVID-19

Coroner’s inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni woman was supposed to start July 6

Port Alberni’s Joe Hill celebrates 90th birthday with waves through a window

Retired accountant receives best wishes via Zoom, meets newborn great-grandchild

Alberni Golf Club reopens with new COVID-19 rules

J and L Mixed Scramble kicks off 2020 season

Help is available for Port Alberni businesses restarting after COVID-19 closures

Popular food truck finds a new location on Johnston Road

A LOOK BACK: recreation in Port Alberni’s downtown

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

Most Read