Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:51 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What to do when you hear tsunami warning

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Emergency officials say the best warning of a tsunami is a large earthquake.

"One of the things that's very clear: If persons feel an earthquake that lasts more than 20 seconds they should evacuate low-lying areas — period," said Eric Mohrmann, director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management.

"That's the most important notification you will receive — the ground violently shaking," said Jeremy Zidek, public information officer for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "In Homer with the Spit, as much notification that you can give people, that can be the difference between life and death."

People on beaches also should look for sudden changes in the tide, such as water going out dramatically and suddenly.

In the event of a tsunami warning, the fire department recommends evacuating low-lying areas below about 100 feet elevation, or below Pioneer Avenue and East End Road. That includes the Homer Spit, Bishop's Beach, Old Town, Beluga Lake and the Ocean Drive Loop area.

Heading off the Spit, the recommended evacuation route is to take a right, or east, on Kachemak Drive. Follow the road to East End Road and park at any large parking lot, such as at churches. Closer to town, people can stage at Homer High School, Homer Middle School and Kachemak Community Center.

Tune in to KBBI Radio, AM 890, for updates. Weather band radios also should broadcast emergency information. The Homer News will post web updates at its website, www.homernews.com.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center also posts web updates at wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov. That website shows predicted tsunami speeds and alert areas.