Riverside plans long-term relief effort for Japanese sister city Sendai

A group of Chinese citizens at the City Hall await transport to leave the tsunami devastated city of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture on March 15, 2011.
A group of Chinese citizens at the City Hall await transport to leave the tsunami devastated city of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture on March 15, 2011. Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

The Riverside City Council Tuesday night approved the creation of a Japanese earthquake relief fund for its battered sister city of Sendai. The city is also donating $100,000 from its general fund.

Sendai is among the areas hardest hit by this month’s earthquake and tsunami. Those forces flattened the city’s coastal neighborhoods.

They killed thousands of people and left thousands more homeless or missing. Sendai City Hall is now a makeshift hospital and shelter.

“[It’s been eight days] since the earthquake and tsunami," said Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge. "We’ve been doing our best to help those affected and restore the city.”

Loveridge read a message from the mayor of Sendai, Emiko Okuyama. “We realize that the relationship with Riverside is invaluable to Sendai and we’d very much appreciate any kind monetary assistance the city could provide with us.”

The Riverside City Council unanimously approved a $100,000 direct donation to Sendai, and persuaded county supervisors to allocate another $50,000. The city hopes to collect at least $1 million more from public and private donations. It’s also asking public utility customers to kick in a few extra bucks when they pay their energy bills.

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