On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by the fourth strongest earthquake in modern history. The accompanying tsunami killed thousands and displaced millions. Adding to the tragedy was damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which resulted in radioactive leaks. The titled “Triple Disaster” caused an estimated $360 billion in losses, which out-numbered Hurricane Katrina’s $250 billion estimate, the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Human casualties are the focus of first responders, however, the economic impact of a natural disaster lingers, further hindering a community’s emotional recovery and ability to rebuild its infrastructure. The United States Armed Forces assisted directly through Operation Tomodachi, spending $90 million in relief.
A global expert who worked for the US Embassy to Japan in 2011 will join Asia Society to discuss what happened five years ago, address economic realities on natural disasters, and share how communities can better prepare for the eventuality of these tragedies. Local experts will also focus on emergency preparedness in Southeast Texas, a region that experienced Hurricane Ike’s destructive power in 2008, and most recently, two series of floods that crippled the Greater Houston area in the spring. The region is vulnerable to coastal surge and inland flooding, which can easily cause destruction to the Texas Gulf Coast’s oil exploration and refinery infrastructures.
Suzanne Basalla, Executive Vice President and COO, U.S.-Japan Council
Jim Blackburn, Professor in the Practice of Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Colonel Christopher Sallese, Coastal Programs Manager, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation
This program is in support of In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11, on display at Asia Society Texas Center through January 1, 2017. Through photographs, this exhibition reflects on the powerful role of artists in the journey of recovery from cataclysmic events.