For years, we've all heard about the "Big One." The earthquake that is supposed to strike in Southern California at some point in the near future.
That quake, experts suggest, will cause massive damage, death, homelessness and financial ruin - and it will also likely be smaller than the one that recently hit Japan by a magnitude factor of two. That gives you some sort of an idea of the devastation this Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami caused to the island nation in the western Pacific.
The death toll is a conservative 3,700 people right now, but only because Japan has more pressing matters. Nearly 8,000 people are still missing. Nearly half a million are now homeless.
Firefighters search for missing people in Minamisanriku, northern Japan, Wednesday after Friday's earthquake and tsunami.
It was through no fault of their own that this took place. When the earthquake happened on the afternoon of March 11 in Japan, most were going about their daily lives, enjoying their families, dreaming big dreams for their children.
Then, in a moment, it was all gone. While it is a personal tragedy for those who lived it, the scale of the event makes it a global tragedy as well.
Fortunately, there are some who are willing to help. The United States has sent search and rescue teams and others around the world are responding with aid packages.
While you may not be able to do much, Mary Dooley, executive director of the Iowa Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross, said one of the most important things those in Central Iowa can do is provide donations.
There are a number of ways to do that. Visit www.redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS. If you have a cell phone, you can make a $10 donation by texting Red Cross to 90999. The charge will appear on your cell phone bill.
You may never know the impact of your gift, but you will know that you are a part of helping an entire nation recover from a horrific event.