Tuesday, May 17, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — April is now Kaua‘i’s official Tsunami Awareness Month.
“We are all very much aware of the devastation a tsunami can cause, and would like to encourage everyone to learn all that they can about tsunamis so they can be prepared to evacuate if necessary,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said Thursday.
The Hawaiian Islands are vulnerable to tsunami, a damaging series of waves produced by earthquakes and other seismic events, because of its location in the middle of the Pacific “Rim of Fire.”
This aspect was brought out during the presentation of Carvalho’s proclamation to representatives of the Pacific Tsunami Center.
The proclamation encourages island residents and visitors to become more aware and educate themselves on tsunami.
This knowledge will assist everyone should a need arise for evacuating low-lying areas because of a potential tsunami threat.
Kaua‘i was spared any major damage from the wave activity resulting from the Honshu, Japan, earthquake and its resultant tsunami, Mar. 11.
This event demonstrates the devastating power of tsunami waves when more than 8,600 people were killed and more than 13,000 people still missing and feared dead in Japan where the disaster occurred.
A house washed into the ocean in Kealakekua, Big Island, piers were torn away, boats were upended and more damage was reported in Hawai‘i, more than 3,850 miles away from the Japan disaster. This demonstrates further the wide-ranging destruction which can result from tsunami.
“We all can take steps to ensure our communities are prepared for a possible tsunami by increasing public awareness, making evacuation plans and exercising those plans,” Carvalho said in the proclamation.
In Hawai‘i history, at least 221 people have lost their lives to tsunami waves, making it the most deadly natural disaster in Hawai‘i.
During the month-long tsunami awareness month, emergency management agencies are working to mitigate the effects of destructive tsunami waves through community outreach and education.
The county Civil Defense agency has taken a proactive approach to helping Kaua‘i prepare for severe weather threats, which has resulted in the county being designated a TsunamiReady and StormReady community by the National Weather Service, Carvalho said in a press release.
“By participating in these programs, it provides us with a gauge of how ready we are, what our strong points are, and what we need to improve on,” Civil Defense manager Kylan Dela Cruz said.
One of the most important benefits to the designation is the Insurance Services Organization provides points in the Community Ratings System to StormReady communities, which may be applied toward lower National Flood Insurance Program rates.
When a minimum of 500 points are accumulated by the county, residents living in special flood hazard areas can apply for reduced flood insurance premiums.
Other benefits include increased level of awareness and readiness in the community, ongoing education in disaster and emergency plans and increased opportunities for the county to obtain grants that support disaster preparedness, the release said.
The National Weather Service developed the StormReady and Tsunami Ready programs in 1999 and 2000, respectively. The primary aim of the programs is to save lives and protect property by improving communication and safety skills in communities across America.
County Civil Defense Director Mark Marshall will be available April 8 at the Contractors Association of Kaua‘i Home Expo to talk with residents and answer questions relating to tsunami. The Civil Defense will have a booth April 8 and 9 at the expo.
Tsunami Awareness month will be featured until April 7 at Carvalho’s TV show Together We Can.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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