Tsunami Readiness Tests Set for This Week

As Tsunami Preparedness Week begins and an upcoming test of the region’s emergency alert system approaches, a team of local experts is reiterating the importance of disaster planning.
Tsunami Preparedness Week is being noted statewide and began on March 24. Humboldt County’s Redwood Coast Tsunami Work group has led cutting edge awareness-raising efforts and at the March 19 Board of Supervisors meeting, its members described them.
Dan Larkin of the county’s Office of Emergency Services announced this year’s test of the region’s Emergency Alert System, which is set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27.
The test will activate the system and “all the other processes we use to notify the public,” including reverse calling and the county’s network of sirens, he said. The team will be doing “general outreach” to a variety of community and county groups and agencies on earthquake and tsunami readiness, Larkin continued, leading up to the alert system test.
It will be carried out in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties and – for the first time – in parts of Sonoma and Marin counties, Larkin said
“We are expanding, which is great,” he added.
Dr. Lori Dengler of Humboldt State University said the working group’s message to residents is to know what to do when an earthquake is felt. “When the ground starts shaking, make sure you ‘drop cover and hold’ – protect yourself while the ground is shaking,” she said, adding that it’s also essential to know where tsunami zones are.
“We are outside of the tsunami zone here, so we don’t need to evacuate,” she said, referring to the county’s administrative building in Eureka. “But if you are in an area close to the coast, on the beach or in a harbor, the earthquake is the warning and you need to head toward high ground and stay there.”
The county has installed signage identifying numerous tsunami zones throughout the area.
Larkin had thanked supervisors and county officials for their help and support, which Dengler reiterated. “I believe that Humboldt County is the single most supportive county for tsunami preparation efforts, I’ll say anywhere in the world,” she said.
Dengler mentioned a recent study by an Oregon advisory commission that forecasts more than 10,000 deaths from Northern California to the Canadian border if there’s a major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. She said the working group’s goal is reduce California’s death toll risk to zero, through proactive outreach and evacuation drills in tsunami-prone communities.
Troy Nicolini of the local National Weather Service office said preparedness is key to survival. “If you saw the report of Oregon, the message of the report is, ‘Everybody’s going to die,’” he continued. “Our message is, ‘Everybody’s going to live.’” He acknowledged the report’s value but said, “We have a really optimistic, hopeful view here, so we really are planning for no one to die in your county.”
Supervisors unanimously approved a proclamation declaring March 24 to March 30 as Tsunami Preparedness Week in Humboldt County.
A series of community events will take place during the week and will be listed on the National Weather Service’s Facebook page.

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