Japanese society tried to protect their coastal citizens from a tsunami with seawalls, well equipped warning systems, and clearly marked routes to higher ground. Above all they trained them. The Japanese people are the most earthquake educated people in the world. Every Sept. first the entire country mobilizes to educate themselves on earthquake and tsunami safety. (The Seattle area with our vulnerability to earthquakes, tsunami, lahars and Volcanoes is no where near as well educated or prepared. Most people myself included have no idea what is the fastest clearest route in the event of a tsunami or lahar.)
But when there is so little time to flee what happens to the elderly, the sick, the disabled or those burdened with young children. How likely will those people make it to higher ground? A hospital far from the coast was swamped to the third floor. How many of the sick and injured made it to the safe floors?
We learn from the thousands of dead that somethings can not be protected against, but how many more thousands dead would there be if they hadn't tried?
We should learn from this.
(I've tagged this earthquake and politics. In the end it seems that everything is politics. Scientists tell us that a citizen of Seattle who lives an entire life in the area will be guaranteed to experience an earthquake of this magnitude. Yet no one wants to prepare.)