April is Tsunami Awareness Month

04/04/14

By Dan DuBois, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Emergency Manager

April 1 is the beginning of Tsunami Awareness Month and is also the 68th anniversary of the 1946 Aleutian Islands 8.1 earthquake that killed 159 people in Hawaii and caused $26 million (1946 dollars) of damage.

Multiple destructive waves, ranging from 40 feet to 130 feet, hit Hawaii between 4.5 and 4.9 hours after the earthquake. This earthquake and subsequent tsunami resulted in the creation of the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System, which is now today’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

As part of the lessons learned from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH Emergency Management (EM) embarked on an education campaign to build resiliency in the JBPHH community.

In conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, City and County of Honolulu and State Civil Defense, JBPHH hosted a tsunami walk to safety April 1, coinciding with the monthly tsunami warning system test.

While we will get warnings for more than four days in advance of an approaching hurricane, earthquakes and the tsunamis they generate can strike with as little as 30 minutes to 12 or more hours of warning.

In the coming months, JBPHH EM will continue to provide information through multiple venues to help residents be better prepared. The same guidelines apply to tsunamis as for hurricane season. Start with the basics.

There are three main things to follow: Be informed, have a plan and make a kit.

In the event of a tsunami as well as other natural disasters, it is essential to be informed. What are the local hazards? Where do you get emergency information? Where can you shelter? JBPHH EM has ongoing community outreach events and training for key spouses, ombudsmen and family readiness groups.

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.navy.mil, www.beready.af.mil or at www.ready .gov.

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