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Tsunami zone, evacuation route signs part of statewide preparedness plan

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Oct 31 2012 06:44:52 AM HST
Updated On: Oct 31 2012 09:51:30 AM HST

The Saturday tsunami warnings and evacuations are triggering a review of how to improve the response of government as as well as coastal communities.

HONOLULU -

The recent tsunami warnings have triggered a review of the emergency response by government and coastal communities across the state.

The Big Island is where you can see tsunami zone and evacuation route signs in place in an effort to help improve public safety.

But for some time, state civil defense has been trying to get them installed on Oahu and on other islands.

"We really want communities to be self-reliant. The state civil defense and county civil defense can't be everywhere for everybody," said Kevin John Richards, state civil defense earthquake and tsunami planner.

Part of that involves getting communities drill-ready with a blueprint of where to go and what to do.

Kauai county has just completed tsunami ready training offered by state civil defense.

On Oahu, the program is just rolling out in a handful of Oahu neighborhoods.

Kaneohe Marine base is the first coastal community to install the new signs. Others who have completed the training include Kailua, and Hauula and are awaiting the installation of the signs.

Richards has been reaching out to prepare residents community by community to better understand where the tsunami safe zones are.

  "You don’t need to cause chaos or traffic jamming, or anything of that nature. Just stay where you are,” Richards said.

 Saturday night's fiery crash was the result of a vehicle hitting cars that were lined up on the side of highway on Oahu's North Shore.

Richards hopes people will heed a simple message: Safety may be just two or three blocks away.

"Here you are on Kamehameha Highway. You simply have to walk mauka of here, and you are alright," said Richards as he referred to a tsunami evacuation map.

"You don't need to drive three miles up the Pali.  In fact, in many, many cases, I wouldn't say all of them, you can walk to safety faster than getting in a car to drive."

Richards has been providing kits to help marshal the resources for neighborhoods ready and willing to be as prepared as they can be.

Civil Defense is looking for a few reliable volunteers in the community to spearhead the effort of getting their communities tsunami-ready before the next one arrives.

As part of the joint effort to be better prepared, the city is on the verge of announcing a program to begin a survey of communities to advance the community training as well as the planning and placement of signs across Oahu.

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