One minute you’re sleeping; the next minute emergency warnings sound and your city is being evacuated.
A tsunami threatened the Pacific Rim on Saturday, with an 8.8-magnitude earthquake off Chile sending potentially deadly waves across the ocean at the speed of a jetliner.
Hawaii woke residents with sirens, alerting them to the waves. A tsunami warning â€” the highest alert level â€” was issued earlier for the island chain. Boats and people near the coast were being evacuated. Hilo International Airport, located along the coast, was closed.
Residents lined up at supermarkets to stock up on water, canned food and batteries. Cars lined up 15 long at several gas stations.
The first waves were expected at 11:19 a.m. Saturday (4:19 p.m. EST; 2119 GMT). Most Pacific Rim nations, awaiting further data, did not order evacuations but advised people in low-lying areas to be on the lookout.
In Tonga, however, police and defense forces have begun a mass evacuation from low-lying coastal areas as they warned residents that tsunami waves about three feet (one meter) high could wash ashore within three hours.
If we knew when an emergency is going to strike, we would never have to be prepared. But if recent events have proven anything, it’s that we never know what to expect or when it is coming.
Are we promoting fear? Some will argue yes.
We suggest that we are promoting awareness.
When an emergency happens, do you really want to be standing at a supermarket, gas station or bank? Or would you be better off being able to skip these steps, ready to evacuate or shelter-in-place at a moment’s notice?