Tsunami meeting in Kailua draws dozens of residents

Ed Teixeira
Ed Teixeira
Chip McCreery
Chip McCreery

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The tsunami that hit Hawaii last month spared most of the state, but many people are already preparing for the next threat. Windward Oahu residents listened carefully to a panel of experts during a community meeting at Kailua Intermediate School.

"I was worried because we're two miles in. We're just behind the line. Would that be far enough?" wondered Kailua resident Heidi Miller. "Just hoping to hear some good information. Something that we can use, and that changes will be implemented for bigger disasters."

In addition to questions about tsunami evacuation maps, another common concern involved malfunctioning sirens. Authorities checked the 33 sirens that were reported to be out across the state during the emergency in March.

"23 were found to be ok, so we don't know if it was just a signal a radio signal that failed to activate it, or was it a siren that sounded one time, didn't sound the second time or third time," explained Ed Teixeira, vice director of Hawaii State Civil Defense.

Teixeira said some repairs have been made. Funding also just came through to get several other sirens back in operation.

"We had a performance rate of about 88% of the 367 sirens statewide. We should have 100% as our standard, but they're mechanical," said Teixeira.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is facing proposed federal budget cuts that some people believe could affect its ability to issue warnings.

"We do provide it think a pretty essential service to the public and we're a pretty small organization so we're hopeful those cuts won't affect us, but we just don't know for sure," said Chip McCreery from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

April is Tsunami Awareness Month and authorities want families to be ready to react. McCreery said the most challenging event would be a locally-generated tsunami caused by an earthquake in Hawaii.

"The tsunami will be on shore within minutes in the area where the earthquake occurs and could conceivably affect the whole state within about 30 to 45 minutes," McCreery said.

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