Villaraigosa Visits Sendai, Meets with First Responders

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looks at debris from the tsunami in Arahama.

TOKYO — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was leading a delegation to Asia, issued the following statement on Monday after visiting Sendai and the Japan Meteorological Agency with first responders:

“Yesterday I met with the mayor and fire chief of Sendai, and the president and professors of Tohoku University. I listened to their first-hand accounts of the catastrophic damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami this past March, and I was touched by the heroism of the first responders.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa meets Sendai Mayor Emiko Okuyama.

“In Arahama, I visited an elementary school where, on March 11, children were learning and playing with one another when the tsunami crashed ashore. The children had to be evacuated via helicopter from the rooftop of the school — their lives were saved by the heroism of first responders.

“The unified response and recovery in Japan is a model of excellence in emergency preparedness.

“There is much Los Angeles can learn from the Japanese people about preparing for and responding to a disaster. As they have done in Japan, investment in an early warning system in Los Angeles would help alert residents within seconds of an earthquake — enough to time to stop, drop, cover and hold on.

“But beyond learning from each other, we are here in Japan because we stand together in solidarity with the Japanese people in times of need.

“March 11 is a day that will forever be seared in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people. Seeing the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami and hearing the stories of survival, compassion and sacrifice speaks to the resilience of the Japanese people.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigos, Emergency Management Department General Manager Jim Featherstone, and Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security Eileen Decker meet with Sendai firefighters. (Photos from the mayor's Facebook page)

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