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Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii

Recreational boatowners leaving Ala Wai Harbor
Recreational boatowners leaving Ala Wai Harbor
Ray Pendleton

Hawaii Government officials this week announced April as Tsunami Awareness Month. And although there is no particular month when such a disaster may strike, April marks the month in 1946 when some 159 people lost their lives here due to an earthquake in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Those officials offered numerous tips for residents for taking refuge from those giant surges from the sea, such as seeking higher ground. But for boat owners, the challenge is somewhat different.

According to Hawaii’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, there are several steps boat owners should take in preparation for a tsunami, but they should be planned for long before the event occurs.

Owners of boats stored on trailers inside the “evacuation zones” (shown on maps in most phone books) should be moved to higher ground once a “warning” is declared.

Moored boats, on the other hand, have the best chance of survival if taken offshore to waters at least 1,200 feet deep – where the tsunami will pass by harmlessly – and stay until an official “all-clear” announcement is made.

The plan also warns, however, that although vessels at sea will escape damage, skippers must be aware that their homeports may not have, so it’s best to have food, water and fuel aboard for at least 24 hours.

Still, on the positive side, it has been shown that the floating docks of a marina may likely withstand the surges generated by a tsunami better without the added weight and drag of the vessels they usually accommodate.

As a last resort, the plan states, if owners are unable to move their boats out of evacuation zones, they should attempt to remove such valuable items as outboards, radios, and navigation devises before securing their vessels and moving to safety.

Making these plans for action long in advance and sharing the plans with other responsible parties can make deciding what to do much easier when ever a tsunami alert is given.

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