Cordova Prepared: Be ready if the tsunami actually comes

Remember that a tsunami is not just one wave, but a series of waves

Cordova students don emergency backpacks whenever they evacuate the schools.

Go to high ground! Tsunami!

Hopefully, Cordovans will not hear the sirens announcing such news — again — any time soon. However, Cordova experienced a tsunami in 1964 and it is possible that it could happen again.

Cordova was designated as a “Tsunami Ready” city in 2014, which means that we have completed numerous “tsunami ready” requirements, such as identifying evacuation routes, practicing evacuations, and training Cordovans how to respond during a tsunami. We know that we have more to do. We know we need more sirens. And we know that we must repeat the tsunami training regularly. Some basic reminders about tsunamis are always in order.

“Tsunami Ready” city signs indicate where to go during a tsunami evacuation: go UP!

If there is an earthquake near the coastline of the northern Pacific Ocean, the West Coast/Alaska Warning Center will know immediately and determine whether or not it MAY generate a tsunami. An offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or greater could generate a tsunami, at which time a warning would be issued to the citizens of Cordova through the use of the sirens, a robo phone for some areas, and by a door-to-door evacuation program (by the fire department) in selected areas. When a tsunami warning is issued in Cordova:

  • Keep calm and take a safe route to high ground. Learn where tsunami safe areas are.
  • If you are on a beach or near the shore, evacuate to higher ground immediately.
  • A noticeable rise or fall of the coastal water is nature’s tsunami warning, listen to it and seek higher ground if you observe that phenomenon.
  • Closely monitor 1. Local Radio Station KLAM and 2. Cordova Alaska Facebook Page and 3. Cordova Police Department Facebook Page.
  • Never go down to the beach to “watch.” If you can see a wave, you are too close to escape.
  • A small tsunami at one beach can be huge at another beach. Do not become complacent if you see a small one.
  • Follow the instructions of any local officials. If you are ordered to leave your home, do so immediately.
  • If you must leave home, remember to bring your emergency “Go” kit (Does your family have one yet?)
  • Turn off your electric and gas mains if time permits.
  • Remember that a tsunami is not just one wave, but a series of waves.

Tsunamis are dangerous and could be particularly so if we become complacent because the last wave never arrived. Come see the movie “The Wave” Friday, April 13 at the North Star Theater. This disaster movie explores the “what if” scenario of a rockslide that creates a large wave, leaving a nearby community with only 10 minutes to evacuate. And the movie is based on a real threat to a real community in Norway. It will surely encourage you to be prepared because tsunamis are dangerous, even though this last one in Cordova never materialized.

With proper planning, preparation and evacuation, Cordovans can mitigate that tsunami danger. Learn everything you can about tsunamis.

And, as always. Be prudent. Be ready. Be prepared.