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San Diego Ready If Large Tsunami Hits

Audio

Aired 3/14/11

The tsunami surge anticipated for San Diego today didn’t amount to much more than slightly bigger waves. But the region has a plan in case a big wave hits.

— If you ever drive near the water in San Diego you’ve likely seen the tsunami evacuation warning signs with a picture of a wave and an arrow pointing away from the beach.

Special Feature County Tsunami Flood Inundation Map

This map lays out the likely flood zones in San Diego County should a major tsunami strike the region.

But Donna Faller with the San Diego Office of Homeland Security said there’s much more involved. City lifeguards and police have emergency response plans in place. The County Office of Emergency Services coordinates efforts between the different cities. And Faller said emergency personnel were monitoring the tsunami throughout the night.

“You can predict, but you never really know what’s going to happen. And there could have been a subsequent quake after that that was even larger,” she said. “So you always want to be prepared for those occasions.”

Faller said the county has a reverse-9-1-1 system in place that alerts people if a more serious situation occurs. The system contains numbers for all land lines. But cell phone users must sign up for the service if they want to be contacted. Faller said the system can be tailored to alert people in the path of a tsunami.

“The tsunami flood inundation zone is already premapped in that data base,” she said. “And we can actually plug in the message that we want to go out to those homes in the flood inundation zone that would need to be evacuated.”

But Faller said the county needs to have time to send out the alerts. In Friday’s case, emergency personnel had enough warning that a message could have been sent out if it was needed.

Faller said emergency offices have maps of tsunami flood inundation zones around the region. The county has also created a video for school children explaining how tsunamis form and how to stay safe if one occurs.

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