After the Japan Quake, Sister Cities Rally for Relief

In Napa, Calif., residents planned a fund-raiser for Iwanuma, Japan, after seeing photographs of the damage caused when the tsunami swept over it. In Galveston, Tex., a group stitched blankets for the residents of Niigata to protect them against radiation that could fall with the snow and rain there. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., residents gathered money for Narashino, a city in Tokyo Bay.

In each case, the American aid was going to a sister city in Japan that had been hit by the earthquake and tsunami. It was an effort repeated across the United States, as towns big and small responded to the destruction and lives lost in their Japanese sister cities.

“This is a very powerful network of people who care about each other like neighbors,” said James Doumas, executive vice president and interim chief executive officer for Sister Cities International, a nonprofit group that is underwritten by the State Department.

During an emergency meeting Monday, more than 100 residents of Riverside, Calif., discussed how to get aid to Sendai, their sister city, which is on the coast near the epicenter of the quake.

“There is a very visceral connection between our two cities, and there has been for a long time,” said Lalit Acharya, the international relations officer for the Riverside mayor’s office.

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