Text messages, e-mail blasts, phone calls and news reports will be the modes of communications city officials use if a tsunami barrels toward Santa Monica beaches.
An emergency response plan approved unanimously by the City Council this week will rely heavily on the SM Alert System to notify residents of impending danger.
The plan comes in the wake of tsunami alerts issued up and down the California coast in the spring after a massive earthquake rocked the east coast of Honshu, Japan.
"This is a very real concern for us … we are well advised to take it seriously," said Mayor Richard Bloom.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Bloom spoke of the possibility of high waves pounding Santa Monica's shoreline. He said he had witnessed the devastation at Crescent City's harbor, badly damaged in the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake.
People who live or work in Santa Monica’s "tsunami inundation zone"—the areas most likely to be flooded—can register for SM Alerts to receive information updates and notifications of potential tsunami alerts, watches, or warnings by landline telephone, cell phone, email and text message.
Those who do not register with the city’s notification system will be notified by landline telephone only.
After prodding from one public speaker, who addressed the council Tuesday about the possibility that such messages wouldn't wake up soundly sleeping residents, the council discussed briefly the possibility installing horns.
The idea was shot down by Santa Monica's Emergency Manager Ken Semko. He said horns like those used in Hawaii are "often unreliable."
He said he is confidant that between the SM Alert notifications and police sirens, particularly if used at night when the town is quiet, that the city will be able to properly alert residents.
Santa Monica's inundation includes:
- All beaches
- The area north of the Santa Monica Pier below the bluffs (including Palisades Beach Road and the Annenberg Beach House) to the northern border of the city
- South of the Pier, all areas east up to 4th street, and south to the Venice border.
"The expected 'worst case' scenario of a tsunami in Santa Monica would likely result in damage to the homes and businesses north of the Santa Monica Pier, below the bluffs," the plan states. "All areas above the bluffs in Santa Monica are not expected to be impacted by the effects of a tsunami due to the height of the bluffs."
Under the new plan, evacuations would extend up to 4th Street.
South of the Santa Monica Pier, experts with the National Weather Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Geological Survey, California Emergency Management Agency and University of Southern California report there could be “ankle deep water on Main Street south of Pico Blvd”.
The plan calls for Pico Boulevard, Ocean Park Boulevard, Marine Street, Colorado Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway to be used as escape routes.
Safe refuge sites include: , , and Washington Preschool.
Sign up for SM Alerts at SMAlerts.net. After creating a profile, users can enter all the ways they would like public safety officials to contact them in an emergency. Users can also register locations in Santa Monica of interest to them, such as their homes, a relative’s home or their child’s school.