Edmonds man escapes tsunami that devastates Japanese city

The town of Otsuchi after the tsunami. (Photos courtesy of the Sea Shepherd Society)

Updated Monday afternoon:

We just heard from Suzanne West that Scott West has arrived in Seattle from Japan. As of 1:15 p.m., Suzanne was waiting for him to clear customs.

My Edmonds News received word Saturday morning from Edmonds resident Suzanne West, wife of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Scott West, who was in northern Japan when the earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan earlier this week. (We wrote a few months ago about West and his 17-year-old daughter Elora, and their work last fall in Taiji, Japan, to protest the capturing and killing of dolphins there.)

While Elora is back home to continue school, her father was in the port city of Otsuchi this week when the city was essentially destroyed by the tsunami, Suzanne West said.

“He said that the gates for blocking tsunami waves were ripped from hinges, looking like some medieval gnarled metal gates,” Suzanne said.

Scott West and other members of the Sea Shepherd Society “are now safe in the mountainous area of Tono (an hour-plus drive from Otsuchi) at a hotel,” Suzanne said.  When the tsunami hit, Scott and his group spent the night on a hill, Suzanne said, watching as the town was destroyed. “They walked out this morning, abandoning their cars,” she said. “It will be months before the roads in the area would let them drive out, he felt, and obviously no other way to leave but on foot.”

Draining water in the Otsuchi harbor.

“At some point some kind people gave them a ride and they were almost to the hotel when they finally got some cell service and calls could be made,” she added. “He said they walked over rubble, bodies, a complete devastating mess. I asked if they had been able to help anyone… he said at one point yesterday a woman was in the water screaming for help, they tried to help but she was washed out to sea before anything could be done.

“They will assess things at the hotel and eventually make it out of there and head for Osaka but as of now we are grateful they are together and safe and so sad for the people of this region who are suffering things we cannot imagine,” Suzanne added.

  1. Mr. West and his companions were in Otsuchi in order to harass the people who live there. They had no business being in Japan or that town in the first place. Now that they have gotten themselves into this predicament they want to go home and are begging for help. This is from Elora West’s blog:
    “Please read their post and do what you can to help these three young adults get out of the devastation in Japan!”
    “We’re now facing the problem of the nuclear meltdown and we want to leave. There are no trains. We’re going to need an airlift from the US State Dept, or Dept. of Defense to an airport. Three of the SSCS activist need financial help for plane ticket out of Japan.”

    So, don’t donate your money to the people in Japan who have lost their families, their homes and their livelihoods. Send your money to these ‘activists’ instead. They need an airlift to bring them to an airport, too. Never mind the fact that all aircraft are needed to airlift the erlderly, sick and injured from the disaster area.

  2. Wow, Henry Marx must have set up google alerts on my husband and daughter to be apprised of their every move… Got A Life? Guess not…. since he seems to do this all the time he must have no time left for anything constructive. Creepy much??

    Hey Henry, when you start a campaign to help the people of Japan rebuild, let us know! We will be happy donate to an organization helping these devastated people.

    Leave it to the trolls to find this and turn it into something it is not….idiots. Guess since this guy has been banned from all other pages he is posting his comments here.

    Amazing how oh… about 4 people spend their time trolling the blog of a 17 year old girl and are so filled with hate for someone wanting to make the world a better place.

    Give us a chance to get them home, working on positive solutions for an end to cetacean slaughter in the process of supporting the rebuilding of a nation is Plan B, C, D… not A.

    These people in Otsuchi, the survivors will need a new home, new jobs, many things…some as mundane as a toothbrush and underwear. I recognize that as I sit here drinking my tea. Having lost everything in a firestorm disaster 20 years ago in California, I have a sense of the shell shocked feeling of evacuating, of walking within rubble, my own rubble, standing in line in shelters for aid…. my friends lost family members… This tragedy in Japan is terrible and our hearts break for these people.

    We are NOT heartless haters of all the people of Japan. You are welcome to your opinion that somehow that is the case but since you do not know us, you are just being judgmental based on your distain for an organization that is working to end the slaughter of marine mammals. We can dislike people killing cetaceans but that does not mean we relish in this misery they are all experiencing.

    People can read Scott’s account of the day and see a short bit of video they uploaded. I expect more will come but that takes time and power…


    ONE people ONE planet
    For the Oceans,

  3. They were not harrasing the people of Otsuchi, they were documenting the slaughter of the Dall’s porpoises, nothing more. They have always made the distinction between oppsoing the slaughter and the people of Japan. if you read their blogs you would know that they do not feel hardship towards the japanese people, they only wish to stop the slaughter of cetaceans before it’s too late. Whaling is an illegal activity but no one else is trying to stop it. Dalls porpoises are covered uner the IWC’s anti-whaling laws but no one was stopping those people from continueing to kill them.

    if you ask the Japanese public about the slaughters they are in agreement with the activists, the majority do not even know that the flesh of these animals are being sold! Yes, flesh from large whales is acknowledged but they do not wish to consume that of small cetaceans (it is sold under the false labels). It is not a tradition and thus should not be treated as such, these slaughters are recent industries and need to be stopped and if going there and standing on the shores filming is going to help then we should salute them.

    Maybe when the news comes that our oceans are damaged beyond repair you’ll think twice about bashing our efforts.

  4. To Henry Marx: If someone was attempting to set my house on fire and someone else attempted to stop it, I would be grateful. You are entitled to see things your way of course but this is how I see it. They were there trying to save the oceans, part of this magnificent planet that is very quickly dying and will be unable to support the life it does currently. Hats off to the people wise enough to see the big picture and are doing what they can to help.

  5. On the contrary, Scott and other Guardians of the Cove were in the area documenting the slaughter of the Dall’s porpoise.They were NOT HARRASSING anyone! They are the eyes and ears for literally thousands of people worldwide who care for marine mammals and the Oceans. They are compassionate, caring people with a goal to promote alternative solutions to the very barbaric Dolphin hunts in Japan. In my eyes, these people are heroes. They do not sit behind keyboards and bash people, they act upon their convictions. I am very glad to know that they are safe and thankful to those who made their exit from Japan possible. The Japanese have suffered a terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to all the families there……

  6. “Mr. West and his companions were in Otsuchi in order to harass the people who live there.”

    They were there to document the brutal slaughter of sentient marine mammals, whom many scientists say should be treated as “non-human persons”:

    “Scientists studying dolphin behavior have suggested they could be the most intelligent creatures on Earth after humans, saying the size of their brains in relation to body size is larger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and their behaviors suggest complex intelligence. One scientist said they should therefore be treated as “non-human persons” and granted rights as individuals. …” https://www.physorg.com/news181981904.html

  7. The comments on that older post from December are madness. We all know the local political commenting can get pretty interesting around here, but that’s just something else. I noticed myedmondsnews was showing a bandwidth exceeded page from the hosting company earlier today. Hopefully this Henry guy isn’t doing anything malicious that might have caused that.

  8. Mr. Marx

    I haven’t assessed this issue to give an intelligent opinion other than to say that this is a time for compassion not for criticism.

  9. @Suzanne West

    “We are NOT heartless haters of all the people of Japan.”

    I read your husband’s account of that day. Here’s what he had to say:

    ” We had picked a hotel well inland to better hide from the authorities.”

    We walked several miles before we met a most amazing man. At his destroyed town, he took on the project of finding us rides to Tono.”
    “The couple in one of the cars had lost everything and was still willing to help out this band of foreigners.”
    “The man left, but came back again with a woman and her van. Her shop in Otsuchi had been destroyed, but with great warmth and dignity she drove us up and over the mountain to Tono.”
    “I cannot begin to describe the amount of kindness and generosity shown to us this day. It confirms my beliefs that Japanese people are warm and kind. The activities of the dolphin molesters in Taiji and the porpoise molesters of Iwate are aberrations and absolutely not the rule. There is so much hope that we will see the end of the slaughters and that Japan will become the leader it should be in marine conservation.”

    First, he felt the need to “hide” from the authorities. Then, after relating all of the help that was given to him by these Japanese people who had lost everything, he goes on to rant about Japanese dolphin and porpoise “molesters”. His last thought is NOT for the PEOPLE of Japan. No, his last thought is about his concern for DOLPHINS.
    Your husband and his companions had no business being in there in the first place. Their presence was and is nothing but a burden for the people who live there. All of my sympathy is for the people of Japan.

    1. Dear Mr. Marx:
      You posted several comments after this one but I have removed them. I believe that enough has been said on both sides of this topic and it is time, as Mr. Wambolt said, to focus on helping the people of Japan during this time of terrible tragedy.

  10. I have heard from another friend in Japan; I thought that others on this site would be interested in reading his emai:

    Dear Wambolt-san,

    It was nice to hear from you after a long time.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful email expressing your concern. with us and our people Hiroko and I, and also all of our family are safe without any damage about ourselves, house and furniture.
    I believe most of Sony/Tektronix people would be safe except their relatives and friends who live in the Sendai area. We were so surprised with the serious damage by one of the world biggest earthquake followed by big tsunamis in the northern Japan. More than 10,000م€€people would be killed or missing. Many people lost their life line and home completely.

    Both Hiroko and I were in down town Tokyo when it happened. Hiroko was in Shinjuku for shopping with her friend. I was in the other place for my university union. I was speaking at that time about our walking journey from London to Tokyo. All of trains stopped completely. Hiroko had waited for taxi in line for more than 7 hours without any help till trains began to move. Cell phone did not work. After sometime, only mail began to help us communicate each other including Akio’s and Satoshi’s family. Hiroko and I met somewhere using mail and returned home together. It was almost 3 o’clock in the morning when we reached home. It took 10 hours. Then we took bath to warm up our frozen body.

    Any way our hard experience was almost nothing compared with that of the Northern people. Yesterday we went shopping to prepare for the limited life for the coming months and possible further earthquakes triggered by this one. Goods as batteries, instant foods and fuel had been almost sold out . We have a quiet morning today as trains stop almost completely around our area. My sons likely work at home using PC. We are supposed to have a planned blackout for 3 hours this evening.. We suffer from serious shortage of electric power by 10,000,000 KW ( almost one fourth of our expenditure) due to serious damage of power plants including nuclear plants.
    We are not still sure what had happened and would happen. It will take sometime. Only thing we can do is to wait patiently praying for a better tomorrow.

    Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers given to us.

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