Japan has experienced some of the most devastating events of the year within the past two weeks. The earthquake and tsunami have caused unfortunate death and destruction. For most of us, we have no earthly idea of how serious these events actually are. All we can do is watch the news or read about the casualties.

We know now that the death toll in Japan has surpassed 10,000 and thousands more are still missing. You may not believe that those events have any impact on people here on our own soil, but they do. I attend school with a Japanese-American student at USA, and her grandparents and mother were both in Japan at the time of the earthquake, tsunami, and now the latest nuclear power plant explosions.

Fortunately, the students family was on the island of Kyushu, Japan, south of the events in Honshu, Japan. But can you imagine how worried a person would be with their family so close to devastating natural disasters and not being able to contact the family and make sure they are safe? That midterm at the end of the week, the essay due, the volleyball match; those things were thrown out the window for her. Her mind was on one thing only: safety for her family.
What if we saw an earthquake and tsunami here on U.S. soil? How would that impact our own people and population? Well there are a few experts out there who have already answered these questions, and the astonishing truth is that a serious high magnitude earthquake is a definite possibility. If there were to be an earthquake in the states, it would be along the San Andreas Fault Line on the West Coast, and in one scenario, the experts say downtown Los Angeles would be completely leveled.

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said this on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week: “Let’s say we have an 8.0 earthquake — smaller than the one that hit Japan — right on the San Andreas Fault. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the devastation would be catastrophic. Downtown L.A. flattened…” As a college student, I can only imagine what this would mean for the students of two very large universities in that area, University of Southern California, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

An earthquake off the coast of California (the most populated state in America) would have different but equally devastating results. “The potential here is that within a few minutes to five hours, a wall of water, 15 feet tall, could hit Los Angeles and go two the three miles inland,” said Kaku of the City College of New York. Experts believe a wall of water from a tsunami  could hit beaches in the area traveling at 30 miles per hour.

Among the concerns for experts is that a 9.0 earthquake could hit around the Aleutian Islands off the Alaska coast, or off the Pacific Coast, and earthquakes and tsunamis are synonymous natural disasters, meaning you would not have one without the other. To make matters worse, experts say the U.S. is not as prepared to deal with earthquakes and tsunamis like Japan is, and we still see how devastating it was for Japan. “Look what happened [last week] to Sendai, and look at the casualties in Los Angeles [if an 8.0 earthquake occurs]: 3,000 dead, up to 50,000 injured and the fires; 6,000 to 7,000, raging fires out of control.”

So what if that earthquake was followed by a tsunami along the west coast? “…Orange County, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, would also sustain massive flooding.” If it occurred during summer vacation or Spring Break; that’s hundreds of thousands of potentially endangered people along the beaches alone. Along the west coast total, there are millions upon millions of people that would be endangered by these potential natural disasters. Out of these millions of people, at least 1/4 of these people are college students, and we are the future of the United States. An entire generation of people [college age kids] could take a massive hit because so many people do reside in the western United States. It’s something to think about.

Timmethy James is an NSCS member at The University of South Alabama. Follow him on Twitter @TimmethyJames. He has his own blog called iReport News.