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Direct Relief at the Ready to Help in Wake of Japan Quake

Goleta-based agency mobilizes plan to respond with needed supplies and other aid

Direct Relief International, based in Goleta, said Friday that it’s mobilizing its response to the disaster in Japan, hit by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the northeastern coast.

“We anticipate a lot of illness and injuries,” Brett Williams, DRI’s director of international projects, said during a news conference held Friday afternoon at the agency’s Goleta warehouse.

The organization has been trying to establish a clear line of communication with its Japanese partners in the event supplies are needed to help deal with everything from broken bones to waterborne illnesses.

Williams said Japan has a good emergency response system, so the challenge will be getting out there without getting in anyone’s way.

He said DRI is also monitoring the status of other countries in the Pacific Rim, which may be heavily impacted by the surge resulting from the quake.

In Santa Barbara County, officials gathered at the Goleta warehouse to urge residents to stay on their toes. The tsunami surges that rolled onto local shores Friday morning were minor, but that’s not the end of the story, according to Michael Harris, head of the County Office of Emergency Services.

“It’s common to get a second or third surge that could be bigger,” he said.

A tsunami advisory remained in effect Friday night for Santa Barbara beaches.

“As residents of a disaster-prone area, it’s our moral responsibility to take care of ourselves,” said Harris, recommending that residents maintain a supply of water, food, hand-crank radios and a basic evacuation plan.

First District county Supervisor Salud Carbajal echoed that sentiment.

“We’d be remiss if we didn’t extend our thoughts and prayers to the people in Japan,” Carbajal said, praising DRI for its quick action to disasters abroad as well as problems at home. “We should take a moment to remind ourselves what we can do to get through a disaster like this.”

Noozhawk contributing writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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