Oahu tsunami inundation zones being redrawn

Oahu tsunami inundation zones being redrawn
Manabu Hongo
Manabu Hongo
Aftermath of the 1960 Hilo tsunami
Aftermath of the 1960 Hilo tsunami
Updated tsunami evacuation map
Updated tsunami evacuation map
Pam Bechtel
Pam Bechtel
John Cummings
John Cummings

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

SUNSET BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's time to double-check your danger zone. New streets, new homes, new elevations - it's all incorporated into Oahu's new tsunami evacuation maps, updated for the first time in nearly two decades.

The new maps are now online, and looking them up is easy. You can type in your address, and pull up a Tsunami Hazard Map. It shows how close you are to danger zones, which are marked in red.

"Because it's a matter of life, you cannot wait," said Manabu Hongo, a Sunset Beach resident.

Hongo would know.

He survived the Hilo tsunami in 1960.

61 people died.

Hongo's home was among those destroyed.

He and his family were inside, but fortunately, the wave crashed on the other side of their home.

"The sound was deafening. It was like right over the house. My living room was cut right in half," said Hongo.

His experience brought Hongo to a workshop at Sunset Beach Elementary, where the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management showed residents updated evacuation maps for the first time in 19 years.

New technology makes the maps more precise.

Yellow marks the 1991 evacuation zone.

The red shows the new one.

For the Sunset Beach area, the danger zone is a lot larger than first thought.

"My concern is, what about after? If there is a tsunami, are we stuck here?" asked Pam Bechtel, a Sunset Beach resident.

The answer is likely yes.

The maps show waves could easily swamp Kamehameha Highway.

"We could lose portions of the road from both sides and there's a good chance you might be land locked until we can get equipment in to clear the debris," said John Cummings of the Emergency Management Department.

Emergency leaders say don't stick around.

"Realistically, it might be best to leave the area completely, go to Wahiawa or some place else," said Cummings.

Take it from Hongo.

"Because when the wave hits, you don't have a chance," said Hongo.

Monday night's workshop is the first of 12, planned in different communities on Oahu through August. You can find the schedule below and the maps through a link on this page of our web site.

The Big Island is expected to finish updating its tsunami evacuation maps in a year, followed by Maui and Kauai.

The project is made possible due to grant money that the State Civil Defense secured several years ago.

The meetings will run from 5:30-8:00 PM at the following locations:

Oahu Region


Outreach Location




Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach Elementary

July 12, 2010

Makaha to Waianae

Waianae District Park

July 13, 2010

Maili to Nanakuli

Nanaikapono Elementary

July 14, 2010

Waimea to Kaena

Waialua District Park

July 15, 2010

Pearl City to Airport

Halawa District Park

July 19, 2010

Kahe Point to Kalaeloa

Kapolei Hale

July 20, 2010

Kaneohe to Kualoa

Kaneohe District Park

July 21, 2010


Waikiki Elementary

July 26, 2010

Hauula to Kawela

Brigham Young University

July 27, 2010

Niu Valley to Makapuu

Koko Head District Park

July 28, 2010


Waimanalo District Park

July 29, 2010

Kualoa to Punaluu

Kaaawa Elementary

August 3, 2010

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