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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tsunami response cost city $330,000

Advertiser Staff

The city's emergency response to Saturday's tsunami warning cost $330,000, but Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the expense was "fully justified."

Hannemann said the cost included overtime pay for police and firefighters and lost revenue from city facilities that were closed. He said city departments are analyzing their performance and will identify ways to improve their response.

"This warning served as an excellent preparation experience for whatever incidents we may have in the future, and such incidents can happen at any time," the mayor said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami advisory at 8:49 p.m. Friday after a powerful magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, causing widespread damage and leaving hundreds dead. The advisory was changed to a tsunami warning at 12:46 a.m. Saturday after officials determined that the earthquake did generate a tsunami.

At 9:14 p.m. Friday, the city's Emergency Operating Center was activated and remained open through the next day until the danger had passed. Hannemann was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting with federal transit officials, but said he received updates on the situation here.

"It was well worth it, given the excellent response we had," Hannemann said about the expense. "The human and financial costs of failing to prepare for and respond effectively to a natural disaster such as a tsunami would be horrendous."

Tsunami waves did reach the Islands, but did not cause any significant damage.

A spokesman for the governor's office said the cost of Saturday's tsunami response to the state was not readily available.