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Feds fund new tsunami siren, plus other measures

Observer staff report

Published on November 7, 2017 4:02PM

CAMP MURRAY ­— Tsunami-preparedness projects in coastal communities are receiving a $693,068 federal grant, the Washington Emergency Management Division said last week. Part of the money will pay for another AHAB tsunami siren in Pacific County, at a location to be determined

“The grant funds have been absolutely essential in helping Washington better understand and prepare for tsunamis,” said Maximilian Dixon, the geologic hazards program manager for Washington Emergency Management Division. “This funding will allow us to now have 71 tsunami sirens along our most vulnerable coastal areas, so we can warn people and save lives.”

The grant notification came just days before Nov. 5, recognized as world tsunami awareness day.

Washington state’s coastlines are especially vulnerable to a tsunami — not only from a Cascadia megathrust earthquake, but also from distant sources like Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. To help spread tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction before and after a tsunami, the United Nations General Assembly designated Nov. 5 as world tsunami awareness day, a day chosen to honor the actions of a Japanese farmer and village chief credited with saving hundreds of lives from a tsunami in 1854. After recognizing the signs of a tsunami, he set fire to his harvested rice crop to attract the attention of villagers near the coast. As the villagers rushed to help, he told them to keep moving up the hill to safety, where they watched the tsunami destroy their village. In the aftermath, he helped his community rebuild to better withstand future events for the benefit of future generations.

“Washington state has been hit by tsunamis in the past and it will happen again,” said Corina Forson, chief hazard geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. “Thanks to this National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program grant, we have been able to map tsunami inundation for many of our most vulnerable communities. We continue to produce maps that show where tsunami waves could cause damage and loss of life and to produce evacuation maps that help people know where to go to get to safety.”

Since 2008, Washington has received more than $6.76 million in NTHMP grants.

In addition to the new tsunami siren in Pacific County, the new grant money will support:

• New tsunami evacuation and/or hazard zone signs in tsunami-threatened communities. The grant covers the signs and local jurisdictions pay for installation.

• Development and printing of tsunami public education and outreach materials.

• Conducting public education and community-based outreach in collaboration with federal, state, tribal, and local partners in coastal communities including the annual tsunami roadshow presentations and NOAA weather radio training workshops.

• Bi-monthly publication of the TsuInfo Alert newsletter. The official newsletter of the NTHMP serves not only as a communication tool on national and international tsunami hazard assessment and mitigation issues, but also provides tsunami information in non-technical terms to the tsunami community at-large. • Development of a best-practices guide for building vertical evacuation structures in Washington, which is expected to be available by the end of 2018.

• Publication of inundation-model results for the Washington outer coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and northern Puget Sound.

For more information about tsunami preparedness: www.mil.wa.gov/tsunami or www.dnr.wa.gov/tsunami

Tsunami inundation and evacuation maps: geologyportal.dnr.wa.gov


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