Joint Base walks to safety to promote tsunami awareness
By Staff Sgt. Christopher Stoltz, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs
/ Published April 05, 2016
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- To raise awareness for the potential tsunami threat Hawaii faces, the Joint Base Emergency Management Office held the fourth-annual "One Mile Walk to Safety" for tsunami awareness April 1.
Participants gathered at Aloha Aina Park on Hickam and walked down Signer Street to the softball fields near the Hickam Fitness Center. The walk demonstrated people do not necessarily have to drive to escape a potential tsunami threat but can walk a mile inland in less than 30 minutes to be safe from the threats a tsunami usually provide.
The tsunami “walk to safety” event marked the 70th anniversary of the April 1, 1946, Aleutian Tsunami. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 occurred in the early morning in an area of the Aleutian Trench about 90 miles south of Unimak Island.
This produced a large Pacific-wide tectonic tsunami which reached Hawaii five hours later. Waves crashed across the islands reaching as high as 55 feet. The tsunami inundated some areas up to a half a mile inland and claimed the lives of 159 people.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m., the walk launched as sirens blared on the waterfront at Aloha Aina Park, adjacent to the Wright Brothers Café. Participants then made the short trek from the park, down Signer Street and to the softball fields near the Hickam Fitness Center.
Dan DuBois, JBPHH Emergency Management officer, said knowing what to do in an emergency is important, but preparing as much as one can beforehand might be even more critical.
“Building a resilient community that is prepared and knows what to do in an emergency is important because of the tyranny of distance,” DuBois said. “JBPHH is located 2,550 miles from the Continental United States. There's no driving a state over to pick up what you need at a big box store. You need to be ready now.”
In addition to having a prepared kit at home, Staff Sgt. Sally Mason, JBPHH Emergency Management, said it would be wise to have something available in ones vehicle as well.
“The chances of a person being in their car when those sirens go off is a coin flip,” she said. “If you’re out at the beach or even down town and those sirens go off, you want to be able to grab your things and be able to go.”
DuBois echoed Mason’s sentiment and said it would be even worse if a person was in a higher-congested area like Waikiki. He said with the increased amount of cars and people, it would be easy to become trapped in a gridlock of traffic – making it a smarter choice to simply walk to safety.
The Walk to Safety is planned in conjunction with NOAA, state civil defense, City and County of Honolulu departments of emergency management and the American Red Cross.
For more information on preparing for disasters, visit FEMA’s Ready.GOV website, the American Red Cross website and Air Force “Ready” website at http://www.beready.af.mil/disasters&emergencies/.