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Sendai is Riverside's 'sister city' in Japan

March 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The "sister city" program, binding cities in Southern California with foreign cities, has never been more important than it was Monday. It's resulted in an outpouring of support for the victims of the Japanese disaster from the people of Riverside.

For more than 50 years, Riverside has held a special bond with the city of Sendai.

There is a monument to that sister-city relationship just outside Riverside City Hall. A plaque reads: "May our ties of friendship continue forever." It's a statement that's perhaps more important now than ever before.

Days after a devastating earthquake and tsunami overpowered the city of Sendai, people from around the city of riverside crowded inside city hall, to talk about ways to help.

"The world is really a very small place and I think coming together today really shows how sister cities can care about each other and really make an impact on the world," said Riverside Mayor Pro-tem Chris Mac Arthur.

At the meeting Monday, everyone was asked to help in a number of ways. There's a group of citizens leaving for Sendai Tuesday. People can also bring donations to Riverside City Hall, where it will be sent directly to Sendai as part of this city's special relationship.

"I believe it's important because a lot of people, they lost their lives out there," said Moreno Valley resident Brandon Stills.

"I think it's a great thing, it's like it's almost something you have to do," said Riverside resident Myra Gardner.

Gardner says if and when this region faces disaster, the city of Riverside can most assuredly count on help from Sendai.

"I think other countries would and will if it comes to it, as long as they're able to," said Garnder.

These cities celebrated a 50th anniversary of the sister-city relationship just a few years ago. At the time, mayors from both cities celebrated their friendship.

Monday though, Riverside will show its friendship in a different way, at a time when what's needed most is help.