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TSUNAMI QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is a Tsunami?
A series of ocean waves generated by vertical movement of the earth's crust (generally caused by underwater earthquakes which could occur very close to Oahu, within Hawaiian waters, or at a distant location). These waves may continue to arrive for several hours and are capable of causing destruction in coastal areas of Oahu, as they have in the past (for example 1946 and 1960).
What areas of Oahu are vulnerable to tsunami?
Generally, all coastal areas of Oahu are vulnerable. For specific evacuation areas, see the maps for the zones that must be evacuated. You should determine now whether you live, work, or go to school in an evacuation zone and develop individual or family emergency plans accordingly.
How will I know that a tsunami is expected?
An Earthquake Affecting Oahu: A local earthquake, i.e., one that causes you to fall or hold on to something to keep from falling, is a natural tsunami warning. If outdoors, remain in open areas away from tall trees, poles, or buildings, If indoors, remain indoors and take cover. In either event, when the shaking stops, immediately leave all evacuation zones. There may be no time for an official warning.
An Earthquake in Hawaiian Waters: If a significant earthquake occurs in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) will issue an URGENT TSUNAMI WARNING for those islands which could be affected by tsunami. The warning will be announced over radio through the Emergency Broadcast System in conjunction with the sounding of Civil Defense sirens. If an URGENT TSUNAMI WARNING specifically identifies Oahu, leave all evacuation zones immediately.
A Distant Earthquake: In the event of a significant earthquake in distant areas of the Pacific Basin, i.e., the Aleutians, Alaska, South America, etc., the PTWC will issue a Tsunami Watch until a tsunami can be confirmed or discounted. A Tsunami Warning will be issued by the PTWC when a tsunami is confirmed and evacuation is necessary. The warning will be announced over radio through the Emergency Broadcast System in conjunction with the sounding of Civil Defense sirens.
What should I do when Watches, Warnings or Tsunami Evacuation Advisories/Orders are issued
Tsunami Watch: All Watch advisories are your signal to prepare. Monitor radio for Watch upgrade to Warning status or Watch cancellation.
Tsunami Warning: Listen to radio for Civil Defense instructions to evacuate.
Tsunami Evacuation: If you are within an evacuation zone, leave by either walking or driving to a safe area or shelter outside the zone. Be aware, however, that steel and/or concrete buildings of six or more stories in height should provide adequate protection if you move to the third floor or above. If you are outside the evacuation zones, you are not in danger. To avoid traffic gridlock, you should curtail non-essential travel, avoid roadways in or near the evacuation zones, and not interfere with evacuation. Remain in safe areas until the "All Clear" is announced over radio. Click here to view a listing of Tsunami Refuge Centers on Oahu.
How can I get to a safe area or shelter if I have no transportation
Walk out of the evacuation zone to a safe area, or to the nearest shelter.
Request assistance of nearby friends or neighbors to relocate to areas outside the evacuation zone.
Take the Bus. Designated City buses will change from normal routing, operate as evacuation shuttles, and pick up evacuees and provide transport to pre-designated tsunami refuge areas. Flag the buses down along their adjusted routes and they will take you, without charge, to within walking distance of one of the refuge areas. Use the shuttle buses to assist in your evacuation, but do not rely solely on their availability as accidents or unexpected delays could occur. If wave arrival time is approaching and no bus is in sight, move outside the evacuation zones immediately. Also be aware that tsunami evacuations is likely to cause disruptions to all City bus schedules.
Will residents and property owners be allowed to enter tsunami evacuation zones?
Yes. Time permitting, shoreline residents and property owners will be allowed to enter the evacuation zone. Prior to first wave arrival, roadblocks will be established by the Honolulu Police Department and Civil Defense volunteers to restrict traffic into tsunami evacuation zones to those requiring emergency entry. 45 minutes prior to first wave arrival, roads and intersections will be sealed off. Anyone still in the evacuation zones will be directed by Police and other officials to move immediately to safe locations.
What if a Tsunami Warning is issued while my child is in school?
Schools and day care centers located within evacuation zones will evacuate according to their plans. Public schools and certain private schools and day care centers outside the evacuation zones will remain open and care for children until they can be safely picked up or released. Parents should be familiar with their school's or day care center's emergency plans.
How can I obtain emergency assistance?
Call 911 or Department of Emergency Management at 723-8960. Hearing impaired who have a TTY instrument may call Department of Emergency Managementat 527-5476. Non-English speaking persons may contact the Pacific Gateway Center at 845-3918 or 848-0936 for translation service
How can I obtain more information about tsunami hazards and preparedness?
The Department of Emergency Management, 650 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, telephone 723-8960.
|Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 03, 2011|