*Hawaiian Tsunami Saturday*
Friday night ( 26 Feb) an advisory was issued for the Hawaiian islands that an earthquake in Chile could potentially generate a Tsunami. The advisory went to a Tsunami Warning sometime after midnight. Public notification was done Saturday morning at 0600 local time with the sounding of sirens across the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii has a pretty good plan for Tsunami’s based on its earlier experiences in 1960 when a tsunami hit Hilo on the big island resulting in 61 deaths and damage estimated at $75M. Websites and phonebooks contain hazard maps that show likely flood zones, and the state has an active warning and alert system. The purpose of this article is to share observations from the recent event.
Public notification was by information on the radio, TV and public sirens that activated at 0600 and about hourly thereafter with the last siren going off around 1100-which was minutes before the wave was predicted to hit. Radio and TV kept up continuous reporting of what was going on. Despite all of this- many of us first heard the word from relatives living on the mainland who called in the early morning hours of Saturday. State Civil Defense and local officials began evacuations of the tsunami flood zones g shortly after the sirens went off. Selected roads were closed on Oahu (the island where Honolulu is located) beginning at 1000.
Many residents left low lying areas and moved to higher ground. The state had designated several “assembly areas” or safe areas that were above the predicted flood zones. These assembly areas did not have amenities and evacuees would be expected to bring their own support items. I personally live well above any expected flood zone but I did observe several families who had packed up and moved to higher ground. Some seemed well prepared with food, water and shelter. Others seem to have left with few items, expecting to ride out any impact and return home shortly. Not sure that was good thinking, as there might not have been anything to go back to if the wave had actually struck.
Stores and gas stations across the island did a big business that morning. Having neglected to top off several items to my liking, I hit the store at 0700 and there were already big crowds. I was amazed at what some people were buying! Obviously water and ice were big items but I also saw frozen pizzas and other items. Not sure how well that would have worked if the power had gone off!
People in Hawaii are well-mannered by nature and there was no panic reported or any bad situations reported in the news.
Ensure you keep up with your inventories! I had been doing a lot of traveling for work recently and had neglected to keep supplies at the level I like. This caused me to be in the store with everyone else Saturday morning.
Early warning (relatives called from the mainland) allowed me to get ahead of a lot of folks. I have a weather alarm but I had neglected my usual monthly check in February which prevented me getting the warning when it was first issued which would have given me even more warning. Do your monthly checks!
Have an evacuation plan and a go kit. I live above the flood zone but you always need a “plan B.” Recon your evacuation route and site. You could tell by looking at folks in the assembly area who had pre-planned and who had literally jumped in the car and taken off without a plan.
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