Residents along shorelines told to evacuate in advance of waves
Oahu officials are urging anyone who lives in a tsunami inundation zone to evacuate in advance of the waves hitting just after 11 a.m. today.
Warning sirens will start sounding at 6 a.m.
“If you live anywhere in the evacuation zone, you have to evacuate,” said John Cummings, Oahu Emergency Management Department spokesman. “This is a serious event. We’re going to treat this as a destructive-type tsunami.”
The last time there were voluntary tsunami evacuations in Hawaii was in 1994.
Cummings said getting out of the inundation zone could be as simple as crossing the street or walking to higher ground.
He and others urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.
After the warning sirens sound this morning, first responders and Civil Defense volunteers will start going door-to-door in coastal areas to tell people to evacuate.
Cummings also said that there will be city buses going up and down shoreline areas picking up anyone who needs to get out of the inundation zone.
The ride will be free and the special city buses will say “evacuation,” Cummings said.
The buses will take people to safe areas where they can wait out the waves.
People in need of the ride can flag down the buses, and don’t have to wait at bus stops, he said.
The tsunami expected to hit just after 11 a.m. will likely create the biggest problems in enclosed bay areas, including Hilo, Kahului, Haleiwa, where the waves could reach six to eight feet, officials said.
Along other shorelines, the waves are expected to be less than three feet, said Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist Brian Shiro.
He said the warning sirens that will go off at 6 a.m. and sound regularly as the tsunami gets closer mean that residents in tsunami inundation zones should evacuate.
He said people should not get in their cars to evacuate, but should walk to higher ground.
“All of our predictions and models are suggesting the tsunami in Hawaii is going to be less than three feet. That’s not huge,” he said. “But in places like Hilo Bay, Kahului, Haleiwa, the tsunami is going to probably get trapped and … be as high as 6 to 8 feet.”
He urged people to stay away from the water.