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Tsunami Awareness Month proclamation

As an island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is vulnerable to tsunamis, which are defined as ocean waves created by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Tsunamis have the potential to be dangerous, as witnessed by the destruction in Indonesia, American Samoa and independent Samoa and most recently in Chile.

Hawaii is fortunate that the February 8.8 earthquake in Chile did not produce destructive waves in our islands. The potential threat of a tsunami provided an opportunity to test our warning system and practice safe and orderly evacuation.

During the last century, a total of 221 people lost their lives to tsunamis in Hawaii, making tsunamis the most deadly natural disaster in our state. Tsunamis are rare but they can occur at any time of the day or night. There is no season for tsunamis. Therefore, education is the key to saving lives. Everyone should know the natural warning signs for a tsunami because there may not be time to issue an official warning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program have designated March 21 – 27, 2010 as Tsunami Awareness Week. In observance, NOAA’s National Weather Service and some state emergency management organizations will exercise tsunami response plans on March 24 along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific coasts, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alaska and Hawaii.

While residents and visitors may have between four and 10 hours of preparation time to evacuate to higher ground in anticipation of a tsunami, Hawaii remains at risk for tsunamis from local sources, although this occurs with much less frequency. Residents and visitors should immediately evacuate to higher ground if they are near the water and feel a strong shaking from an earthquake.

April 2010 is Tsunami Awareness Month. On March 22, 2010, a kickoff event will be held at Ka Waihona o ka Naauao Public Charter School in Nanakuli on Oahu. Organized by NOAA and State Civil Defense, the event emphasizes tsunami education as the key to saving lives. The program includes a welcome by Principal Alvin Parker; a science presentation by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist, Dr. Gerard Fryer; and tsunami talk story and Q&A led by Civil Defense volunteer Manny Mattos.

Other events taking place throughout the month include a free admission day at the Pacific Tsunami Museum’s Open House on April 10; Mauka to Makai Earth Day on April 10 at the Waikiki Aquarium; Molokai Earth Day on April 22 at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center; and Hilo Earth Day on April 23, at Hawaii Community College.

THEREFORE, I, LINDA LINGLE, Governor, and I, James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr., Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii, do hereby proclaim the month of April 2010 as

TSUNAMI AWARENESS MONTH

in Hawaii, and encourage our citizens and visitors to learn all they can regarding tsunamis in order to evacuate as quickly as possible when necessary.

DONE at the State Capitol, in the Executive Chambers, Honolulu, State of Hawaii, this twenty-second day of March 2010.

Linda Lingle
Governor, State of Hawaii

James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr.
Lieutenant Governor, State of Hawaii

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