Tsunami evacuation signs coming to Kailua

Tsunami evacuation signs coming to Kailua
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kailua has already been recognized as a tsunami ready community, but that won't stop the community from installing signs that indicate where tsunami zones begin and end, as well as maps that indicate where people need to go during an evacuation.

"Most folks know to go uphill. But if you're in a little community like Kailua, those little roads are unfamiliar," said Department of Emergency Management spokesman John Cummings. "We will also have arrows indicating what road to take, what direction to go, to get out of an evacuation zone."

Widely-distributed tsunami inundation maps show how vulnerable Kailua is to a destructive tsunami, should a major earthquake strike somewhere like the Aleutian Islands.

"We will be directly hit. Most of Kailua town will be underwater," Kailua Neighborhood Board member Claudine Tomasa said. "So it's really important to have all our people who live here, including our visitors, be informed about what to do and how to escape."

Kailua has a mix of residents, vacation rental customers and tourists. The signs will be visual cues that each group will be able to understand.

"They quickly can recall, 'Where do I need to go? What do I need to do?' And they are not wandering around lost in a state of panic," said longtime Kailua resident Leslie Kahihikolo.

The city says it has surveyed several communities around the island where the tsunami signs will eventually be installed.

"We're hoping to have the first signs in place by the end of the year,but the plan isn't quite set in place yet, what areas are going to be first," Cummings said.

The last step is deciding exactly where the signs will be placed.

There are three ways to get into and out of the Kailua community.

"You have Mokapu Boulevard. You have Kailua Road. And there's another road that comes in through Waimanalo," Tomasa said.

In all, Oahu has 112 miles of coastline. Eventually, Cummings says, tsunami signs will be posted around the entire island.

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