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An Alaska Native village on the Kachemak Bay coastal shores in the southern Kenai Peninsula just became the first tribe in the state to receive a tsunami preparedness certification from the National Weather Service.

Seldovia Village Tribe, a nearly 700-member federally recognized tribe roughly 250 miles south of Anchorage, earned its certification in the volunteer program this week, according to the National Weather Service, who administers the voluntary TsumaniReady certificate program.

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In order to qualify as tsunami-ready, communities must: define tsunami hazard zones, produce evacuation maps and install evacuation route signs; maintain a 24-hour warning point; support tsunami public education, including; support more than one way of receiving tsunami warnings and alerting the public; develop a formal tsunami operations plan; and hold annual exercises. The TsunamiReady recognition is valid for four years, and can be renewed. 

Tsunami hazards along Alaska’s Pacific coastline are high, according to a 2019 state of Alaska report titled “Regional tsunami hazard assessment for communities on the Kenai Peninsula.”

Unlike tsunamis that are caused by distant earthquakes on the other side of the Pacific, Alaska’s greatest tsunami hazards originate just offshore and can inundate coastlines within an hour of a causative earthquake, according to the report.

“This reduces the time available to respond and evacuate, and can produce drastically higher wave heights than far-traveled tsunamis,” the report notes. “Because many Alaska communities hug the shoreline, many Alaska communities are within the tsunami inundation zone and are at risk of rapid flooding.”

“We are proud to be the first Alaska Tribe to achieve TsunamiReady certification,” Seldovia Village Tribal president Crystal Collier said in a statement. “This certification highlights the importance of tsunami preparedness in our community. It reinforces our commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the people of our area.”

The main goal of the NWS’s tsunami program is to improve public safety before, during and after tsunami emergencies, according to the agency. 
To learn more about the TsunamiReady program, visit How to Become TsunamiReady

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