Cantwell Discusses Tsunami Readiness with Long Beach Community Leaders & Emergency Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was in Long Beach to host a roundtable discussion on tsunami readiness with community leaders and emergency officials. The roundtable explored the threat facing the Long Beach peninsula and the status of Project Safe Haven – Long Beach’s proactive tsunami readiness and vertical evacuation plan.

“People are developing technology so that once an event happens we can know within minutes what the likely scenario of damage that event would do and what it would look like. So we want to keep furthering these applications for the whole state – but clearly in areas like Long Beach that are on the front lines we want the best system possible,” said Cantwell. “Today I wanted to hear from you all about what it is you think the community needs to plan for the future in terms of communication, coordination, and infrastructure.”

Cantwell also discussed her Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act – which would strengthen NOAA’s tsunami warning system and advance new research related to improving tsunami detection, forecasting, notification and response – which passed the Senate in 2015."We've passed this tsunami bill through the Senate. Now we need to get it through the House so we can have better information to plan for a tsunami. We can only have the best plan if we have the best information."

Mayor Jerry Phillips, Dr. Christopher Sabine of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratories, Robert Ezelle, Director of Washington’s Emergency Management Division in addition to numerous other local and regional officials all attended the event.

After the event Cantwell and attendees toured the site where the Project Safe Haven vertical evacuation project berm will be constructed. Vertical evacuation is a strategy to provide high ground – through a berm or other means – in communities that lack natural access to high ground.

Cantwell has been a leader in ensuring Pacific Northwest communities have the tools they need to prepare for tsunamis.

In 2006 she secured passage of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act which enabled Washington state to improve tsunami evacuation routes, update maps, and increase the number of DART warning buoys worldwide.

This month Cantwell sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee to prevent cuts to NOAA’s valuable Tsunami Program and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, which provides critical funding for preparedness and resilience activities in states across the Nation.

A magnitude 9+ Cascadia earthquake, and the tsunami that would subsequently ensue, would pose a serious danger to low-lying communities – like those on the Long Beach peninsula – along the Washington coast.