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If you were sitting in a public place that had television or radio on, or if you were at home watching your favorite newscast or talk show just before 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, you heard an ominous tone. It was accompanied by a warning of a tsunami.
The tone was a test of the tsunami warning system, and the first time it was done only regionally and not statewide, according to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The tsunami warning drill is a once-a-year “live” test to make sure the system is prepared to broadcast time-sensitive emergency messages.
This year, according to Bryan Fisher, the operations manager for the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, was the first time a regional test was attempted. The idea, said Fisher, was “to target emergency messages to regions that are susceptible to the specific threat. ... (T)he ability to identify issues and make corrections is the purpose of the exercise.”
They’d like to know how they did this time, and will compile information from a public survey just completed online to see how they measure up.
The timing of Tsunami Preparedness Week, which is this week, is somber. It is the anniversary of the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday earthquake that shook the state, triggering deadly tsunamis, on March 27, 1964. Those who were in Alaska at the time will never forget that day and its devastation.
We are well to prepare as best we can for tsunamis. Forewarned is forearmed — if we know to move to higher ground, we can save our own and others’ lives.