The word Tsunami is a Japanese word -- which literally means harbor wave. Harbor comes from the Japanese "Tsu", and "Nami" is Japanese for wave.
Unfortunately for the Japanese people who inhabit this beautiful as well as technologically advanced country, located in the vast Pacific Ocean off the Eastern coast of China -- Tsunami and earthquakes are a fairly regular occurrence. They are such a regular occurrence that the Japanese have developed countermeasures and safeguards in the way of architectural design, sophisticated sea walls, and also by educating their people on what to do in the case of an emergency via earthquake or Tsunami.
Here is a brief video explaining the basic science behind a Tsunami:
Although Japan was prepared for such major disasters as large earthquakes and tsunamis, there was little that could be done about the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck in a very shallow zone near the northeastern coast of the Japan's main island of Honshu, and caused a series of large, powerful Tsunami waves that rushed through many towns and caused an incredibly tragic amount of destruction. Many have been reported dead and many more reportedly injured. over 9500 people in one city alone have been reported to be missing. Also it is estimated that there are were over 80 fires raging throughout Japan, including an extremely large one at an oil refinery which produced unbelievable footage as people around the world have been watching in awe and disbelief.
The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the coast of Japan on the afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2011 left total destruction in the form of a series of tsunami waves that repeatedly struck Japan's coastline, particularly the northeast region which saw the worst destruction.
The Sendai Airport was totally engulfed with water, and entire towns were swallowed up as the series of waves -- which were estimated to reach heights of up to and over 23 feet -- rushed through these towns as well as over massive areas of farmland. The waves swallowed everything in their path -- including houses, cars, trucks, boats, and buildings which had no defense over the massive walls of rushing water. 180+ aftershocks have been reported to hit the area, some of which were larger than the recent earthquake in Haiti.
Tokyo also was affected by the earthquake as it shook the metro area violently and caused them to shut down all railway systems, leaving thousands stranded in the city for the night.
It has also been reported that although the nuclear power plants across Japan are all designed for such disasters -- it is still possible to experience small leaks from these nuclear plants. One apparently had a small explosion and the government is prepared to give the people of the surrounding area iodine tablets in order to reduce the effects of any radiation that might be in the area.
The massive earthquake and the series of Tsunami waves that it produced sent waves rocketing throughout the entire Pacific Region -- including the Hawaiian Islands, Taiwan, Russia, The Philippines, The Marshall Islands and Guam, Indonesia, and the entire west coast of the United States, and most of the west coasts of Central and South America.
The impact of Tsunami waves in the past decade has shown their power and ability to cause mass destruction. Such unfortunate events call for the bonding of the human race, and for the hearts of people to reach out and help their neighbors in a time of need. President Obama has also said that the US is prepared to aid Japan in it's recovery. And the Hawaii state Governor has declared a state of emergency to aid places like Kona and parts of Maui.
It is incredibly unfortunate when natural disasters occur and hopefully the world will recognize the need in Japan and do whatever they can to help in this time of need. To those with family members in these regions -- may your families be safe and may they have a sense of peace during this time of upheaval. And may the human race bond together and aid Japan in this time of distress.
The Japanese government deployed over 8,000 troops to aid in the regions that were impacted and has declared a state of emergency as they prepare to recover from the aftermath of this incredible force of destruction. Google has also deployed it's 'person finder' crisis response site where people can attempt to reach their loved ones who may not be responding.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, located in Honolulu, Hawaii -- issued Tsunami warnings for all of the Hawaiian Islands as well as the west coast of the United States, and most parts of the coasts of Central and South America.
The series of Tsunami waves hit the Hawaiian islands and have caused a fair amount of damage. A series of Tsunami waves estimated to be around 3 ft. arrived at Waikiki beach around 3am in the morning on Friday. Unfortunately Kona was hit fairly hard as water reportedly rushed in as far as 100 yards and destroyed houses, cars, restaurants, and shops. A large house was floating in Kealakekua Bay and other houses and vehicles were destroyed there. Debris was strewn all over the place but people were gathering to form cleanup crews so they can resume their lives. Estimated millions in damages to one of our country's most beautiful and amazing places. Such a sad thing to happen as well, but Japan seems to have the largest loss from the Tsunami.
Fortunately, the residents of Hawaii had hours to prepare in case these waves were to cause a real threat -- which they certainly did -- and destroyed quite a few homes and vehicles. Also some boats were destroyed and others sustained heavy damages. Some people took dangerous risks to be in the area filming, although it makes for some very close- up footage. Here is some of the footage of the destruction done in the town of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, my home for close to 10 years, where I happen to have many friends there who are like family to me --
If you would like to help in any way -- check out CNN's link "Tsunami Aid and Relief: How You Can Help" for information on how to help Japan in their time of need. It also may help to say some prayers for this country and their people, and for the people of Hawaii to send them wishes of healing and peace... and the means to rebuild what has been destroyed by this unfortunate event.