Officials in Honolulu asses their emergency responses
Honolulu, HI (Undated)-- Officials with the City and County of Honolulu are in the process of assessing their response to the tsunami warning on the night of March 10 that saw thousands of Oahu residents flee their homes as images of the destruction in Japan were broadcast live on television.
During a hearing Monday before the City Council's Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee, emergency managers testified that messaging continues to be the most significant problem in reaching out to the public during an emergency.
Director of the city's Department of Emergency Management, Mel Kaku, says many residents outside of tsunami inundation zones may have left their homes unnecessarily.
Part of the problem in communicating with the public is a lack of understanding in how tsunami inundation zones are developed.
Kaku says his department is considering several options to improve its system of emergency messaging.
Among the possibilities is a reverse 911 system that would contact residents in specific locations who need to take action in case of an emergency. For example, residents who find themselves inside an inundation zone during a tsunami warning would receive a text message. This feature would reduce the number of people unnecessarily leaving their homes in emergency situations.
The city is already making use of a messaging service called Nixle that sends free text alerts directly to mobile phones or email accounts.
The Director of the Department of Emergency Services, Dr. James Ireland, testified he had taken the initiative of creating a Twitter account for his agency after the March 10 tsunami warning, saying it was the most effective way to reach those under the age of 25.