Even as the water continued to slosh back and forth at the Port of Brookings Harbor during Friday’s tsunami, there were lessons to be learned.
First, the quake that struck off the coast of Japan is the same type that could very well happen here – and that is something we need to be aware of as we watch and study the devastation that happened in that country.
Are we ready? Yes and no.
One of the county’s tsunami sirens did not go off at 4 a.m. Those that did, didn’t wake many people up.
People who were stirred by the sirens flooded the local 911 system with phone calls, instead doing what they are supposed to: turn on the radio and check the Pilot’s web site.
Some residents who were unaware of the tsunami threat, or are just plain dumb, went down to the impact zones, not only putting their own lives in danger, but the lives of authorities who are duty-bound to guide them to higher ground.
We were also reminded that there is not a lot of outside help available. We are dependent on our local authorities and volunteer firefighters for the initial response. And what a response it was.
Within minutes of learning of the tsunami threat, Curry County Sheriff John Bishop contacted the local media and implemented an emergency response plan. Erring on the side of caution, Bishop triggered the tsunami sirens countywide. A small army of Sheriff’s deputies, city and state police officers, and volunteer firefighters went door-to-door alerting residents in low-lying areas of the potential tsunami danger.
The Pilot issued news alert via e-mail and posted information on our website and Facebook pages. Our website crashed because of heavy visitor traffic – a lesson for us!
At one point, Brookings port manager Ted Fitzgerald was heard saying about the damage at the port, “It’s just equipment. Nobody was hurt.”
That is a great attitude to have as we evacuate our homes in times of crisis, especially as we decide which things are priceless and which things we can live without.