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Annual Tsunami Drill to Take Place at Hilo Airport

November 30, 2019, 7:56 AM HST
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Students participating in runway evacuation drills in 2017. PC: Hawaii Department of Transportation

The Hilo International Airport (ITO) will host the state’s annual tsunami evacuation exercise next week.

The event will take place on Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the combined efforts of the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation, Hawai‘i Civil Defense, schools within the Keaukaha area and community volunteers will test multiagency preparedness and response to a tsunami threat.

“Exercises like this are important in our overall efforts to ensure public safety in the event of an emergency,” said Deputy Director Ross Higashi, Hawai‘i Department of Transportation, Airports Division. “Conducting such simulations reduce loss of life during actual events and decrease the possibility of real-life failures by responding agencies. Further, engaging with community partners is integral in creating a well-balanced disaster evacuation plan based on public assistance and cooperation.”

The joint exercise has been occurring annually since 2008. This year, approximately 700 students of all ages, from elementary to high-school, will take part in the runway evacuation drill.

Airport security and maintenance personnel will provide safety support as the Keaukaha students and staff walk across the runway to a nearby airport exit gate. The drill will occur at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 and is expected to take less than half an hour. There are no inbound flights scheduled for the duration of the runway drill.

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HDOT alerts the public that the tsunami evacuation exercise at ITO will coincide with the monthly test of the sirens. There will be large amounts of people on the airport property. The scenario is designed to look realistic; however, this is a drill and not a real-life emergency.

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