"Those pictures from Japan really got to me," said Norm Gorblat, a Mountain View resident. "For a second, I thought it could be us."
The raw human emotion and empathy stirred by the 9.0 magnitude temblor and subsequent tsunami that pummeled northern Japan on March 11, has prompted many locals to ask how they might help.
"The Mountain View Fire Department has received requests from community members interested in helping with relief efforts to support the victims," said Jaime Garrett, spokeswoman for the fire department.
The fire department is recommending that those who want to help donate money to the Red Cross. Garrett said people can do this by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999, which will give $10 to the humanitarian organization and be charged to their cellular phone account.
Residents may also give to the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, which is organizing a fundraising drive of its own.
Glenn Kitasoe, president of the temple, said that there are many Japanese people living in Mountain View and throughout the Peninsula, and that for some of the temple's congregants, the disaster hit very close to home — literally.
"Most of us have family ties — either relatives or some acquaintances in Japan," said Kitasoe, a Buddhist of Japanese decent. "Luckily, most everyone in the temple has family that was either not affected or they are OK."
Because of those ties, and simply because, as a religious organization the temple frequently does humanitarian work, Kitasoe said the Mountain View Buddhist Temple will be accepting donations that will be sent to help the Japanese recovery effort.
"Whether they are Buddhists, or any religion," he said of those impacted by the Japanese disaster, "there are people in need and we would like to help."
The temple is asking for donations during its Sunday services and will accept donations from anyone in the community.
Kitasoe said checks should be made out to the Mountain View Buddhist Temple. Information is available on the temple's website, www.mvbuddhisttemple.org.
When the temple stops collections on April 20, they will pool the money and send it to the Buddhist Churches of America, headquartered in San Francisco; the Buddhist Churches of America will in take all the money from its member temples throughout the country and send the funds to help the Japanese people.
Although the northeastern coast of Japan suffered major destruction, much of the southern part of the country — including Mountain View's sister city, Iwata, — was not hit nearly as hard.
In fact, a group of students from Iwata, scheduled to arrive in Mountain View on March 17 as part of an exchange program with the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, have not cancelled their trip as a result of the quake.
Iwata, which is located in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, sits roughly 350 to 400 miles from the quake's epicenter, about 100 miles south of Tokyo.
"There wasn't nearly the amount devastation in Iwata that northern Japan felt," said William Blair, an English teacher from Mountain View High School and head coordinator for the Iwata visit.
However, another local Japanese exchange program, between middle schools in Palo Alto and Tsuchiura — a Palo Alto sister city located about 200 miles north of Iwata in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan — cancelled their trip after a 6.0 magnitude temblor rattled their city on March 11. They were scheduled to arrive in Palo Alto on March 12.