Tidal wave disaster is just waiting to happen
(reprint: Native Village, September 15, 2004 )

England: The director of the Benfield Grieg Hazard Research Centre in London says a huge chunk of rock, nearly the size of the Isle of Mann, will soon break off the volcanic island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. Professor Bill McGuire says it's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when."  He also says when the rock does fall, it will trigger giant waves called mega-tsunamis--huge walls of water traveling up to 560 mph. These mega-tsunamis will tear across the ocean and hit islands and continents, leaving a trail of destruction.  "When one of these comes in, it keeps on coming for 10 to 15 minutes," Prof McGuire said. "It's like a huge wall of water that just keeps coming."  Computer models of the island's collapse show the first regions to be hit will be the Canary Islands. Within a few hours, Africa's west coast will be battered with similar-sized waves.  Between 9-12 hours after the island collapses, waves will have crossed 4,000 miles of ocean to crash into the Caribbean Islands and the eastern seaboard of the US and Canada. The worst-hit areas will be harbours and estuaries, which will channel the waves inland. While scientists try in vain to make their concerns heard, the world's governments look the other way. "The US government must be aware of the La Palma threat. They should certainly be worried, and so should the island states in the Caribbean that will really bear the brunt of a collapse. McGuire says. "They're not taking it seriously. Governments change every four to five years and generally they're not interested in these things."

Southern Asia Tsunami Disaster Relief
How to Help From Afar
From the National Heritage Foundation

     Here are some of the organizations accepting donations to help victims of the tsunami that devastated South Asia.  Most groups recommend cash donations, rather than supplies. 

  • American Red Cross

Donations also can be sent to the International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.  For more information about donating, call 800-435-7669.

For information about friends or relatives who might have been victims, call the U.S. State Department at 888-407-4747, Office of Overseas Citizens Affairs.  Callers can expect frequent busy signals in the days after a disaster.

  • Asia Relief

The Maryland-based nonprofit organization is accepting donations of cash, nonperishable food, clothing, and toys for victims in Sri Lanka.  Donations should be dropped off at or mailed to Asia Relief, 19409 Olive Tree Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20879.

Contact Rizwan Mowlana at 301-672-9355 for more information.

  • Association for India's Development Inc.

The Maryland-based nonprofit organization is accepting cash donations to help relief work in India.

Contributions can be made on the Web at www.aidindia.org or mailed to AID Zone 3, P.O. Box 4801, Mountain View, CA 94040-0801, with checks made payable to AID.

Contact Priya Ranjan at 301-422-4441 for more information.

  • Tsunami Relief Inc.

The Virginia-based nonprofit group has been set up to help victims in Sri Lanka.

Donors can call 703-934-6922 or mail checks made payable to Tsunami Relief Inc. to 9302 Lee Hwy., Fifth Floor, Fairfax, VA 22031.

  • B'nai B'rith International

Donations can be made online at www.bnaibrith.org or mailed to B'nai B'rith Disaster Relief Fund, 2020 K St. N.W., Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C. 20006.

  • Southeast Asia Relief Fund

Donations can be sent c/o The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, 6101 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD 20852.  In the memo line of your check, write: SDG05DRT.

     More information about donations to humanitarian organizations can be found on the U.S. Agency for International Development's Web site, www.usaid.gov.

     Donors can call the Center for International Disaster Information at 703-276-1914.

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