Local authorities are preparing the county for tsunamis in the event of a nearby offshore earthquake.
Although the National Weather Service declared the city of Santa Barbara “StormReady” in August of 2009, the county hopes to certify all three main jurisdictions of Santa Barbara, Carpentaria and Goleta as “TsunamiReady” by the end of 2011. The requirements for certification include placing tsunami flood warning signs or sirens along the coast and providing tsunami education programs.
According to UCSB Emergency Preparedness Manager Jim Caesar, UCSB is the only fully certified “TsunamiReady” university in the nation.
Santa Barbara County Emergency Manager Jay McAmis said a near-source event — such as an earthquake between the mainland and Channel Islands — would be the most probable cause of a tsunami in the area.
“If we have a local earthquake 40 to 50 seconds or longer and strong enough to make standing difficult, that could be strong enough to trigger a local tsunami that could give us only minutes to respond,” McAmis said.
The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, American Red Cross, California Highway Patrol and California Department of Transportation participated in the planning and rehearsal of the county’s tsunami response plans. According to Santa Barbara’s Emergency Services Manager Yolanda McGlinchey, damage minimization requires collaboration between government and nonprofit groups.
“In all of our functional exercises, we have done it with all the city jurisdictions,” McGlinchey said. “[It is important] to coordinate with multiple organizations.”