News: Prep for earthquakes in Hawaii
Story by Christine Cabalo
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Just seven years ago, October 2006, Hawaii was rocked by 6.7 magnitude earthquake causing aftershocks and Oahu to go without power for 14 hours.
Hawaii organizations joined several other states to participate in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, Oct. 17, 2013, to help prepare if an earthquake strikes. More than 15,000 people registered to participate in Hawaii.
“Earthquakes are unpredictable,” said Coralie Matayoshi, Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross in statement about the drill. “They can occur at any time, on any day. The Red Cross encourages people to be ready and know how to stay safe if a quake occurs.”
In times of an emergency, Marine Corps Base Hawaii will open up shelters for residents, said Leon Sims, an emergency manager for Marine Corps Base Hawaii. However, Sims said residents should be aware shelters do not typically provide food and are only opened in severe emergencies.
“You can’t completely plan for earthquakes, but just in case you should have an emergency kit,” Sims said. “The kit should have three days worth of food and water. You may think you don’t need it now, but what happens if your house collapses?”
Sims recalled feeling disoriented when the 2006 earthquake occurred in the morning and initially thought the safe place to be was in a doorway. However, since he participated in the Great ShakeOut drill last year, he’s learned that the best action to take indoors during an earthquake is to take cover and hold on. He also suggests that whether people live in base housing or off-base, the same thought should be in their mind.
“Be familiar with house exits, proceed cautiously,” he said. “Get together and have an emergency kit. You can replenish it every year with new canned goods and nonperishable items.”
During an emergency, the American Red Cross can also provide disaster relief as well as help families reconnect after a disaster. Connie Cruz, the American Red Cross coordinator at Kaneohe Bay, regularly attempts to connect families with service members both during family emergencies and in a widespread crisis like a severe earthquake. She advises that if an earthquake does strike, to continue to monitor the news and to try to contact loved ones directly.
Otherwise, if families need her help, she will attempt to try to reach missing service members through their unit’s family readiness officers or other contacts.
“What I often remind commanding officers or units when I speak with them is that they should tell their families they’re all right in a crisis,” Cruz said. “If they are capable of calling their family in the continental United States, do it.”