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Newport relatively tsunami-safe

December 13, 2005|By By Andrew Edwards

On June 14, a tsunami warning was issued after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit off the Northern California coast. In Newport Beach, lifeguards went to work to get people off the beaches and piers, and a voluntary evacuation was announced.

Lifeguards were also watching for tsunami waves and communicating with the Coast Guard to learn if any waves had been detected, Freeman said.

Parker said one problem that local agencies faced during that 78-minute tsunami warning on June 14 was seemingly contradictory information from the National Weather Service's Tsunami Warning System. The warning center in Alaska, which monitors tsunami risk along the West Coast, provided the warning. Another warning center in Hawaii indicated there was no risk of a tsunami.


However, the Hawaiian center does not provide information for the West Coast.

"That was confusing to a lot of local governments," Parker said.

Freeman said Newport's emergency agencies did receive conflicting information on June 14.

While Newport Beach's emergency plans include tsunami preparations, the city's firefighters, lifeguards and police have yet to conduct a tsunami training exercise, Freeman said.

"We have never exercised for a tsunami, but that one will be coming up," she said.

In the aftermath of the June 14 warning, the Newport Beach Fire Department sought to improve firefighters' ability to respond to a tsunami by acquiring weather radios for all of the city's fire stations.

Newport Beach's emergency plan lists Corona del Mar High School and Newport Harbor High School as potential evacuation sites. A map of possible evacuation routes indicates residents could escape the lower beach areas by using major northbound roadways. A map of evacuation routes and details of the city's tsunami plans can be found by visiting the city's website,, and clicking on "Emergency Management Plan."

"They [residents] can download a copy of that and place it on their refrigerator," Police Sgt. Bill Hartford said.


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