‘Tsunami roadshow’ coming to Clallam County

Tsunami and earthquake experts will take the “tsunami roadshow” to Port Angeles, the Lower Elwha Tribal Center and Neah Bay next week.

Presenters will discuss tsunami vertical evacuation structures, potential earthquake early warning systems and survival strategies, and will answer questions from the audience.

Officials from the Washington Emergency Management Division will be joined by the National Weather Service, Washington Sea Grant, local emergency management officials and the Washington Geological Survey, part of the state Department of Natural Resources, in the 90-minute presentation.

Public presentations will be:

• 10 a.m., Thursday, April 11, at the Makah Tribal Community Hall, 81 Third Ave., Neah Bay

• 6 p.m., Thursday, April 11, at Peninsula College in The Little Theater, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles

• 10 a.m., Friday, April 12, at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center Gymnasium, 2851 Lower Elwha Road, Port Angeles

Other presentations will be in Aberdeen, Ocean Shores and on the Long Beach Peninsula.

The public is encouraged to attend.

This is the third year for the roadshow.

“The goal this year is to make sure as many people know and understand what tsunami alerts are, how to receive them and what to do to survive a tsunami,” said Geologic Hazards program supervisor Maximilian Dixon with the state Emergency Management Division.

The state has 72 All Hazard Alert Broadcast sirens along the coast with federal funding to add one at the Quinault Indian Nation and three in Skagit County later this year.

In Clallam County, sirens are at Diamond Point, Dungeness Fire Station, Four Seasons Ranch, Marine Drive in Port Angeles, Lower Elwha Klallam Community Center, Clallam Bay, the Quileute A-Ka-Lat Community Center in LaPush and two sites in Neah Bay. Three more on the North Olympic Peninsula are in Port Townsend.

Dixon said the state needs at least 40 more to fill key gaps along the coast.

The governor’s proposed budget this year would provide state funding for another 15 sirens.

Dixon also has been working with communities to apply for federal grant funds to build more tsunami vertical evacuation structures. Grant applications have been received for potential structures in Ocean Shores, Westport and Aberdeen.

The state has one vertical evacuation structure. It is at Ocosta Elementary school near Westport.

A second one is under construction, courtesy of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe.

All of the tsunami sirens recently underwent an upgrade and now feature voice messages in both English and Spanish with future upgrades planned to increase reliability.

On March 20, the state teamed with federal officials to conduct a workshop with emergency managers around Puget Sound and the outer coast to look at tsunami response strategies.

Wireless Emergency Alert Systems also have been implemented for the coastal areas to potentially send out messages to residents and visitors to head to high ground if a tsunami is coming.

“We’ve made improvements that will help us communicate to people all over the coast, but, remember, if you feel an earthquake, and you’re on the coast, drop, cover and hold on,” Dixon said.

“Then as soon as it is safe to move, head immediately to high ground or inland. Don’t wait for that text message. Don’t wait for the sirens to go off.”

More information is at www.mil.wa.gov/tsunami.

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