Earthquake Aftermath: From California to Chile, Residents Fight the Waves

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People walk with a dog on the beach in Tijuana March 11, 2011. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu said a tsunami warning was posted from Mexico down the Pacific coast of South America after a massive 8.9 earthquake hit Japan. The advisory was later extended to a stretch of the U.S. West Coast from Point Conception, California, north through Oregon.

REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

As the world reels from news of destruction after an earthquake in Japan, the west coast of North America and South America had to face the quake’s effects. Though massive damage is not suspected, many residents along the coasts evacuated, moved to higher ground or simply stayed alert for incoming waves.

Note: This information is constantly changing, so head to or CNN’s live blog for up-to-the-minute updates.

(More on See pictures of the quake in Japan)

California: With effects of the tsunami already showing up on California’s shores, various parts of the state remain subject to tsunami warnings (coastal areas north of Point Concepcion) and less serious tsunami advisories (south of Point Concepcion). The National Weather Service instructs those up north to move inland to higher ground, while in the south, people are to, well, “move out of the water” and get away from beaches, harbors, and marinas.

Some California beaches and schools have been closed, and thousands have been evacuated. According to the NWS, waves in Crescent City, likely to be the hardest hit place in the state, have damaged harbor structures and boats. Coast Guard officials are looking for a man swept out to sea in northern California, according to Fox News. In an alert, the NWS also warns “Don’t be fooled…tsunami waves can stop for long periods and then begin again. Wait for the official all clear to return to threatened areas.” For more information, head to SF Weekly’s live blog.

Oregon: Five-foot waves hit parts of Oregon’s coast around 10:30 a.m. ET after a number of residents were evacuated early this morning. Sirens sounded around 7 a.m., with many coastal residents evacuating in the early morning hours to higher ground. A couple swimming in southwest Oregon was swept 50 yards out to sea, but was quickly rescued. Waves up to six feet high were hitting shore, but little damage was reported.

Washington: According to the Associated Press, the coast of Washington experienced “vigorous waves similar to any stormy day on the coast.” The National Weather Service had forecasted waves measuring up to 3.3 feet, but it appears the waves were less severe, though stronger waves could be expected. The coast of the state was placed under a tsunami advisory. Residents in some smaller coastal cities were asked to evacuate and move to higher ground, many local businesses were shut down and eastbound traffic piled up as residents attempted to move away from the coast.

Vancouver, British Columbia: Though Vancouver Island was under a weather advisory Friday morning, reports indicated waters rose less than one meter on the island’s north and west coasts. About 150 residents of Tofino, located near the west coast, were told to be aware of the incoming waves, especially if they lived on houseboats or near the coast. No residents were evacuated.

Nicaragua: The government issued a green alert for the Pacific area, which makes up 427 coastal kilometers and is home to 100,000 people early this morning. The Chief of Civil Defense, Mario Perezcassar mobilized units to the area, though he has not yet ordered evacuation.

(More on See stunning video of the Japan quake)

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and ordered evacuation of the entire coastal region as well as the Galápagos Islands, taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. “If nothing happens, then that’s great, but we can’t take any risks,” Correa told reporters. Ecuador’s heavy crude oil pipeline operator suspended oil shipments.

Colombia: Issued an alert, though no evacuation was ordered. Luz Amanda Pulido, the director of the National System for Disaster Attention and Prevention had a higher alert for the four Pacific coastal regions of Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.

Chile: Waves are expected on Easter Island, located 3,500 off the coast of Chile, by 3:47 pm EST. Residents of Easter Island planned to evacuate several hours before waves were expected. The mainland will not be affected until 9 p.m. President Sebastian Pinera told residents to remain calm, despite still feeling the effects of a previous earthquake. “We now have a much better system,” Pinera said.

Peru: Peru’s coast may be hit by waves at around 6:00 p.m. EST, according to Peru’s president, Alan Garcia.

Mexico: The country’s Interior Department said the tsunami “represents a moderate danger,” as they expected waves measuring up to 6 feet high. But the first reports from the Mexican navy measured swells of only 2.33 feet. The coastal city of Acapulco saw some schools suspend classes, and the port of Cabo San Lucas closed to all traffic. The Interior Department urged Mexicans to avoid taking boats out on the water.

—Compiled by Megan Friedman, Meredith Melnick, Josh Sanburn and Alexandra Silver