A tsunami early warning siren and message is set to go off this morning at 9:45 a.m., and emergency responders want the message to reach as many people as possible ahead of time. It is only a test.
Every coastal community in Alaska should be able to hear the tsunami alert. The information will be broadcast on radio stations, television, on marine radios and through the public tsunami alerts posted around the Homer, Port Graham and Seldovia area. If people don’t get the alert, the state offices for emergency response want to hear about it.
The State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in cooperation with the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, the National Weather Service and the Alaska Broadcasters Association will conduct a test of the State’s Tsunami Warning System on March 27.
Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter said the only way to make sure the system works is to do the actual drill as if a real tsunami were about to take place. This is called the “live code.”
This test commemorates the 49th anniversary of the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Gov. Parnell has declared March 24-30 as Tsunami Preparedness Week.
Alaska will use the exercise to conduct a live code test of the state’s emergency alert system. At approximately 9:45 a.m. March 27, the State’s emergency alert and NOAA Weather Radio systems will deliver a test tsunami warning message. While the message will be a “test” message, the codes used to activate the system will be the real codes used in an actual tsunami warning. This verifies that the warning and alert system is programmed correctly.
The state is asking for feedback after the drill, contending that public cooperation is critical. On a survey, they want information about whether you heard the alert, how you found out about the drill, and whether the audio was clear. This is at: http://ready.alaska.gov/survey/
The object is to promote awareness. This test provides an excellent opportunity for tsunami and earthquake preparedness activities that:
• Test local warning/siren systems
• Conduct outreach and education on tsunamis and earthquakes
• Practice “drop, cover and hold-on” drills and tsunami evacuations
• Emergency operations center exercises (the West Coast / Alaska Tsunami Warning Center’s exercise manual is available at: http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/.)
• Enhancement of Alaska’s Tsunami Ready program
While not every area of the state is at risk for tsunami, many citizens visit tsunami hazard areas for recreation or business. Likewise, Alaska has a high earthquake hazard and this test recalls the 1964 disaster that touched all of Alaska.
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management asks the public to use the March test for emergency preparedness and outreach. “We would like to know and share your ideas and lessons with others. We are here to answer any questions in support of your local tsunami-earthquake preparedness efforts. We have earthquake and tsunami outreach materials available.”
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