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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Christina O’Connor

Ewa Beach Ready To Face Storms

The Ewa Beach community was recognized last month for its efforts to prepare for hazardous weather. Pictured (from left) are Maria Lutz (Hawaii Red Cross), Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong (state Department of Defense), Jessie Kozel (Hawaii Red Cross), Mike Cantin (National Weather Service), Doug Mayne (State Civil Defense), Rodney Boucher (Ewa Beach Emergency Preparedness Committee), Mel Kaku (city Department of Emergency Management), Kevin Richards (State Civil Defense), Ray Cordeiro (Ewa Beach Emergency Preparedness Committee) and Crystal VanBeelen (city Department of Emergency Management). Photo courtesy of Mike Cantin.

Ewa Beach recently earned recognition as a StormReady and TsunamiReady community – designations awarded by the National Weather Service (NWS) to communities that have implemented infrastructure and systems to protect themselves against hazardous weather.

Local NWS representatives presented the community with a plaque April 27 during Pride for Ewa at Hoalauna Park.

Ewa Beach is one of only three municipalities in the state to achieve these recognitions, joining Kailua and Hauula. The effort was initiated by the Ewa Beach Community Preparedness Committee (Ewa EPC), a volunteer-based nonprofit that aims to make the area safer and more prepared through initiatives that include training classes and an annual resource fair.

“Being recognized as a StormReady and TsunamiReady community is a great step for the community,” said Mike Cantin, the warning coordination meteorologist of the local NWS office. “Through the efforts of (EwaEPC), many community members are more aware of weather and tsunami hazards and are better prepared to take appropriate action when a natural disaster threatens.”

The NWS has been working with Ewa EPC since last fall to help the group attain these goals.

To be designated as StormReady and Tsunami-Ready, a community must do the following: maintain a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; have multiple ways to receive and disseminate weather warnings; be able to monitor local weather and flood conditions; conduct community-wide preparedness education programs; establish a community hazardous weather plan; and identify tsunami evacuation and refuge sites.

“As the education efforts of the Ewa EPC continue, a greater percentage of the community will be prepared,” Cantin added.

Ewa EPC volunteer chairman Rodney Boucher said that while the group was “ecstatic” about its recent achievement, this is only the beginning.

The group currently is working to establish a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and also aims to establish preparedness plans for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

Created in 2011 following an area power outage and an islandwide tsunami warning the same week, the group has about 20 volunteers.

Cantin noted that Kaneohe, Nanakuli and Haleiwa are working toward their own Storm-Ready plans.

For other communities interested in being officially prepared, Cantin recommends forming a group first, then contacting the NWS – or the city Department of Emergency Management, which is the next step.

For more information and to find out how to become StormReady, visit stormready.noaa.gov.

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