'Net tool maps tsunami risk areas
Residents can find out if their home is at risk and evacuation routes
A new Internet tool allows Hawaii residents to quickly find out if their home or business is in a tsunami inundation zone -- and the evacuation route.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created the new tool using Google maps and a state computer server, said Adam Stein, an NOAA consultant for the project.
The Tsunami Hazard Information Service, which took about a year to develop, is the first in the nation, he said.
Typing in a specific address brings up the pertinent map, Stein said. Rural or neighbor island locations that don't have street-by-street Google maps still can search by areas of an island, he said.
One advantage of the new system is that as new studies are done of coastal areas and the maps revised, they can be posted online.
Until now, the public had to use maps published in phone books. Phone books will continue to contain the information, which is updated yearly.
Project partners included state and local planning and civil defense officials, plus the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies, Stein said. "All the contributors made it what it is -- a one-stop shop for the whole state of Hawaii," he said.
"I really like it. I think it's a fantastic thing," said Maria Lutz, American Red Cross Hawaii director of disaster services.
Some Apple computer users may experience difficulty using the system, but technicians are hoping to resolve that, Stein said.
The service is available now at several government Web sites and is expected to be added to more, said NOAA spokeswoman Delores Clark.