MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s central Pacific location makes it vulnerable to tsunami disasters. For example, this week’s 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile prompted a tsunami alert in the Hawaiian islands, just as April’s Tsunami Awareness Month kicked off. The Force Protection Office personnel aboard base are encouraging MCB Hawaii patrons to have a plan in the event of a tsunami.
When an earthquake occurs, the Tsunami Warning Center and the Pacific Disaster Center assess whether the tsunami aftershock is a threat to Hawaii. If the conditions are threatening, they will immediately advise emergency management personnel.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Force Protection Office instantly establishes an Emergency Operations Center to notify base personnel, coordinate with civilian authorities, manage resources and communicate with incident commanders. Notifications are issued via the AtHoc system, an interactive crisis communication device.
“Our initial response is to get the word out every way we can,” said Jacqueline Freeland, emergency manager, MCB Hawaii’s Force Protection Office. “Saving lives is always our main objective.”
Active-duty service members should register themselves and their spouses for the AtHoc system to receive immediate information via cellphone or email. Civilian workers can also register for the AtHoc system by contacting the Force Protection Office.
When signing up for the AtHoc system on government computers, there is an opportunity to become a volunteer to help guide people to safety during a tsunami crisis.
When a tsunami alert is announced, personnel should turn on TVs or radios to receive announcements broadcasted across the islands. Everyone is advised to stay away from beaches and individuals at the base Marina should evacuate immediately.
Other immediate evacuation zones across MCB Hawaii include; Zone 1, which covers a large portion of the east side of base, from the back gate to the commissary; Zone 12 is the western side and includes the flightline, Waterfront Operations and the Cabanas; Zone 2b consists of housing on the west side of the Kaneohe Bay Range Training Facility.
Base residents are encouraged to leave evacuation areas and find higher ground in the event of a tsunami threat. Freeland said there are “safe haven” facilities people can go to wait until the “all clear” is given; parking lots, play grounds, the base theater and the Officers' Club are examples of safe places aboard base to go. The Provost Marshal’s Office will work to clear neighborhoods quickly by knocking on doors or patrolling vulnerable areas.
“You need to know if you’re in an evacuation zone,” Freeland said. “You need to have a plan and know where to go. You don’t have to be in a building, you can decide where to go. Just get out of that zone.”
Because of Hawaii’s remote location, provisions can take days to arrive to the island from the mainland if there is an emergency. Residents should have five to 10 days worth of essential food and other supplies in their homes or available to them in the event of an emergency. Safety information is available at www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil under “Disaster Preparedness.”
Gates accessing the base will close 30 minutes before the first tsunami wave is expected to hit. It is important for base residents and workers to know they will not be able to enter or exit the installation until it is safe to do so, Freeland said.
“We don’t know how many waves there will be,” Freeland added. “The last wave could be the biggest one.”
Another resource for information is the Hawaii Marine Facebook page. Updated information can be found during emergencies at www.facebook.com/MarineCorpsBaseHawaii. For more information, visit the base website or contact the Force Protection Office at 257-2350.