MAUI BECOMES HAWAII'S SECOND
Nov. 29, 2004 — T he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service today recognized Maui County as “TsunamiReady.” NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The county also renewed its “StormReady” designation. The TsunamiReady and StormReady programs are voluntary preparedness programs that establish guidelines for communities to follow for readiness. Communities adopt requirements in the areas of communications, warning reception and dissemination, public outreach, awareness and administrative planning.
“StormReady and TsunamiReady encourage communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving public awareness and local response to hazardous situations,” said Nezette Rydell, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS Forecast Office in Honolulu. “Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Alan Arakawa, the Maui County Civil Defense Agency, and others, Maui County has established the means to better protect the public from tsunamis and severe weather threats and we have furthered our agency’s mission to protect lives and property.”
During a ceremony held at the Mayor’s office in Wailuku, Rydell presented Mayor Arakawa with two special signs identifying the communities as StormReady and TsunamiReady.
“Maui becomes only the 13th community in the nation to receive the TsunamiReady designation and the first county in Hawaii to renew the StormReady designation,” said Rydell. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 820 StormReady communities in 47 states, including Kauai County. The StormReady and TsunamiReady recognition will be in effect for three years when the communities will go through a recertification process.
“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA's National Weather Service. “More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes impact the United States annually, and hurricanes are a threat to the Gulf and East Coasts. Potentially deadly weather can impact every person in the country. While tsunamis are rare, they can be deadly. That’s why the National Weather Service developed the StormReady and TsunamiReady programs.”
To be recognized as StormReady or TsunamiReady, a community must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
- Have more than one way to receive tsunami and severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public;
- Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally;
- Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars;
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
“Maui County successfully met the readiness criteria and was approved by an advisory board made up of county emergency managers, representatives from the Hawaii State Civil Defense and the NWS,” said Rydell.
“Educating the public about tsunamis is one of our top priorities,” said Charles “Chip” McCreery, director of the Richard H. Hagemeyer Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach. “The TsunamiReady program will not only complement these efforts but will also help expedite county response when a tsunami warning is issued.”
“The StormReady and TsunamiReady programs helped us improve the warning services that the county provides,” said Arakawa. “Although Maui hasn’t suffered extreme hurricane damage like Kauai, we have had our share of other severe weather, especially flash floods. When future disasters occur, a StormReady or TsunamiReady community will be better prepared for its citizens.”
“Just like communities, families need to be storm ready or tsunami ready by having an action plan. Through the StormReady and TsunamiReady programs, the National Weather Service plans to educate every American about what to do during natural hazard events because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect him or herself. The best warnings in the world won't save you if you don't take action when threatened by severe weather or tsunamis,” Rydell added.
NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.
Delores Clark, National Weather Service: (808) 532-6411
Related Web sites:
NOAA’s National Weather Service Forecast Office Honolulu
Editor’s Note: Logos or the StormReady and TsunamiReady programs are available online: http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/signs.htm