When a massive dock drifted across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the U.S. West Coast after the Great East Japan Earthquake, it brought along more than the invasive "wakame" kelp and mussels that were attached to it. The city of Newport, Oregon, where the docked beached itself last June, noticed the high interest it was generating and put it to good use.

Kate Brown, 55, a resident of Newport, was one of those who rushed to see the dock after hearing about it. Touching it, she thought back to what happened in Japan, recalling horrific images of entire communities being swallowed by the ocean.

Since the same ocean brought the 20-meter-long concrete and metal slab weighing over 100 tons from Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, all the way to her doorstep, thoughts of tsunami tearing apart the Oregon coast also flashed through her mind.