Officials roll out tsunami plans
Oahu will get more emergency sirens installed or replaced
More solar-charged battery-operated emergency sirens are slated to be installed on Oahu to warn residents of a potential natural disaster, according to officials.
As part of next month's Tsunami Awareness Month, city and state Civil Defense officials will install additional emergency outdoor sirens.
Currently, there are 362 emergency sirens statewide. Of that figure, Oahu has 176 sirens that include 29 sirens on military bases.
At a news briefing at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach yesterday, Melvin Kaku, director of the city Department of Emergency Management, said about 100 to 140 sirens either need to be installed or replaced in the next two years on Oahu in "gap areas" that include Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, the North Shore and Punaluu.
Last year the state Civil Defense disclosed a list to the Star-Bulletin of communities where more emergency sirens are needed. State Civil Defense spokesman Ray Lovell noted that siren installation plans are constantly changing due to new subdivisions and population shifts.
To help expedite installation of sirens, Kaku noted that the Department of Planning and Permitting will no longer require building permits for such installations. Each siren costs $70,000 to $80,000 to install.
A demonstration project is also in the works that involves mass notification via telephones and computers in gap areas, Kaku said. The project is expected to take a year and will include 200 addresses. Officials have yet to determine when the pilot project will begin.
The city also has a Web site, www.oahudem.org, that allows residents to view tsunami evacuation zone maps, which are the same maps in the front section of phone books. The state Civil Defense has the same Web site at www.scd.hawaii.gov.
Officials also encouraged the public to purchase a NOAA weather radio that is available at most electronic stores and departments. The radio receives weather information such as tsunami watches and warnings as well as high-surf warnings. The radio also has an alarm that is emitted when a tsunami warning is issued, said Charles "Chip" McCreery, geophysicist-in-charge of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Officials reminded the public to remain vigilant with an evacuation plan and emergency kit, as a tsunami can strike Hawaii at any time.
SESSIONS TO COVER DISASTER DETAILS
The city Department of Emergency Management will sponsor a series of community disaster information and volunteer recruitment sessions at:
» Waipahu Town Center from 9 a.m. to noon April 12.
» Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange from 10 a.m. to noon April 13.
» Kapolei Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to noon April 19.
» Foodland Super Market in Laie from 10 a.m. to noon April 26.
» Kahala Mall from 2 to 5 p.m. April 26.