News From Our Blog

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in Virginia at 1:51pm EDT today. It is among the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Virginia and was felt as far away as Massachusetts. Learn what to do after an earthquake, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

How to Arrange Travel Out of Japan

From the Department of State:

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo informs U.S. citizens in Japan who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Asia. This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law. U.S. citizens who travel on US government-arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location. Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Japan on Thursday, March 17.

Find more details on safehaven travel.

How to Safely Donate to Disaster Relief

Dept. of Defense photo of U.S. military members helping Japanese citizens clean up a park in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.

Many places are taking donations to help the disaster relief efforts in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that took place on March 11. As donations to help the victims flow in, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) warns that con-artists are quick to try and scam generous givers.

Here are some tips from the IC3 to help you avoid becoming a scam victim:

  • Check to see if the charity is legitimate by visiting their website directly. Don’t use any questionable links you may have been sent.
  • Verify that the charity of your choice is a non-profit organization that will use your donation to help the cause.
  • Do not give out your personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions, or you could become a victim of identity theft. 

More tips for safe donating.

If you are looking to donate to the disaster relief efforts going on in Japan, use the tools recommended by the Federal Trade Commission to research your charity of choice.

Japan’s Coast Before and After the Tsunami


These images show the effects of the tsunami on Japan’s coastline. The image on the left was taken on Sept. 5, 2010; the image on the right was taken on March 12, 2011, one day after an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the island nation.

How USAID is Helping in Christchurch

US Rescue team out on missions now in Christchurch, New Zealand U.S. rescue team on mission in Christchurch, New Zealand. By Rebecca Gustafson on Twitter.

Rebecca Gustafson works for USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and has written a great post on USAID’s blog about the work being done to save lives and alleviate suffering caused by the earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22.

Knowing there is significant search and rescue capacity in the region that is best placed to assist in Christchurch, I went to work Tuesday morning thinking it would be another busy day in the office. It is a good thing I am always packed and ready to deploy because I and five of my OFDA colleagues were headed to Christchurch just after noon.

We are meeting up with the Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue team and then heading directly into Christchurch. Once on the ground, we will immediately go into rescue mode. Our Urban Search and Rescue team will join forces with the Urban Search and Rescue personnel from New Zealand and other international teams they train with all year to assure that every place a survivor might be found is thoroughly searched.

You can follow Rebecca’s work on Twitter at @DARTgirl.

If you need—or can provide—information about the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens in Christchurch. Please email the U.S. Embassy in New Zealand at