SXSW Goers: Japan in Mind
Friday morning marks a week since a 9.0 earthquake devastated parts of northern Japan. Tens of thousands of people are missing and presumed dead from a tsunami unleashed by the quake.
Several nuclear reactors were also crippled; United States and world leaders are watching with increasing concern as Japan struggles to prevent an all-out meltdown at one reactor.
Today President Obama spoke in the White House Rose Garden about the crisis.
“I know that many Americans are also worried about the potential risks to the United States. So I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific,” the president said. “Let me repeat that: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.”
In Austin, a fund raising effort to assist victims is underway – in the midst of the annual South-by-Southwest Music Conference. Music fans can make a donation at free concerts Friday and Saturday night at Auditorium Shores.
Individuals looking for ways to help can create their own fundraising webpage. Mayor Leffingwell announced a public flashlight vigil will be held at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 at Auditorium Shores.
The tragedy overseas has made for a mixed bag of emotions downtown, where producer Gretch Sanders caught up with Festival-goers.
Musician Danda Paxton flew in from Dublin for the week. He said traveling has made it hard to follow the news, but he knows things in Japan aren’t looking good.
“It’s just one of those sad things. You kind of feel helpless over here that you can’t really do anything, but sometimes that’s just how it is. ”
Ryan Rettig is a film producer from Los Angeles. He said the excitement of the film festival has been tempered by the catastrophe overseas.
“We’re world premiering our movie and celebrating after two years of hard work and sweat. Then you turn on the news, and it’s hard not to think about what all of those people are going through.”
To hear more reaction from the streets of Austin, take a listen.