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Tsunami Preparedness and Procedures


Most of La'ie is in a low-lying, coastal plain subject to damage from tsunami waves. In the past, tsunamis have caused flooding and significant property damage to the area.

Long-Distance Tsunamis

Earthquakes caused by plate tectonics in places like Alaska, Japan, and Chile can generate very large ocean waves that can strike the Hawaiian coast and cause catastrophic damage. These can come with four to 10 hours of warning, providing plenty of time to evacuate all residents to higher ground.

Locally-generated Tsunamis

Smaller-scale earthquakes frequently occur at or near Oahu, usually as the result of an undersea landslide or from volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii. While less likely to cause severe damage, these local tsunamis could strike in a matter of minutes with little to no warning. Evacuation time prior to contact for locally generated tsunamis can be within 20 minutes.

Watches, Advisories, and Warnings

Tsunami Watch

Danger Level Not Known Yet – Stay Alert for More Information. This indicates that there is a possibility of a tsunami. While residents do not have to evacuate during a watch, they should prepare to do so by securing important documents and emergency kits.

Tsunami Advisory

Strong Currents Likely – Stay Away From the Shore. Strong ocean currents and dangerous waves for those near the water. The threat may continue for several hours but no inundation is expected during an advisory.

Tsunami Warning

Inundating Wave Possible – Full Evacuation Suggested. Tsunami threat is imminent, expected, or occurring. Evacuate immediately. Move inland to high ground. Remain in the safe area until you hear the "ALL CLEAR" announcement from the local Civil Defense.

Evacuation Locations

The following are suggested evacuation locations:

  • Students may go up to the higher levels in the Hales.
  • Behind the water treatment plant.
  • Laie Hawaii Temple Hill.
  • Gunstock Ranch.

If you cannot reach any of these sites, do your best to get inland and to a higher level. Park in the grass; do not leave your vehicle in the street as it may hinder others trying to evacuate. If you are unable to evacuate, you may climb to the highest point of your current building as a last resort. Do not go to the beach to watch for waves, as you cannot outrun a tsunami. For a more detailed evacuation map and instructions, see the HI-EMA and other links below.