Chehalis Japanese Sister City Unharmed by Quake and Tsunami


    Chehalis Japanese sister city escaped unscathed from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent earthquake that ravaged a major portion of the country’s east coast.

    Inasa, Japan, now a part of the larger city Hamamatsu, is about 10 hours from the most heavily damaged region and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant where scientists and energy experts are still trying to figure out how to contain the radiation leaks.

    “I got an e-mail from the family that hosted me, and they’re fine,” said Chehalis resident Stephanie Connors, who visited Inasa with other city residents last November. “That was a big worry to me. ... I don’t know if they’re feeling every aftershock.”

    Connors has served as a host family when Inasa residents visited the Rose City and has visited the Japanese city five times during the last 20 years.

    She received word on Tuesday from a woman who stayed with her for a year in 1986 that though the city wasn’t damaged, residents felt the quake.

    “We all in Inasa are OK. However, we have feelings that we cannot think to be the other people’s affairs at all. I will express my deep condolences to the victims of tsunami and earthquake,” Naoko Sakai said in an e-mail sent to Connors. “I am watching TV news everyday. So sad. I’m so afraid of earthquake again.”

    Chehalis Mayor Tony Ketchum, who has regularly gone to Inasa, and visited the city in November for the 20th anniversary of the two cities’ relationship, said when he heard about the disaster his mind first went to the coastal city and the people he knew.

    “It was pretty hard to sit there and watch, not knowing where (the city was in relation to the quake) and if the city was OK,” he said.


    Marqise Allen: (360) 807-8237, Twitter @marqiseallen