Kalaupapa Prepares Evacuation Plans

The isolated peninsula of Kalaupapa could be an evacuation nightmare in the event of natural disaster, but thanks to new evacuation plans and facilities for the settlement, there will soon be less reason to worry.

This spring’s tsunami scare highlighted the need for emergency evacuation plans. “Every time you have an incident, you can learn from that,” said Tim Trainer, National Park Service Kalaupapa chief ranger.

On the morning of February 27, residents and employees gathered at McVeigh Hall in the settlement. Administrators were in contact with the governor’s office and monitored the tsunami’s progress. “If we had to move to higher ground, we realized we didn’t have [facilities] in place,” Trainer said.

Now in the event of a tsunami, earthquake or fire evacuation, there will be an established “safety zone” across from the crater at higher ground. A raised deck there will have port-a-potties, showers and stored drinking water.

Workers will prepare an adjacent field for emergency helicopter landings.

Trainer said the NPS will also establish a new signage system to accompany emergency alarms in the settlement. The signs will tell residents what is happening — a tsunami, earthquake or other incident — and how they should respond.

Trainer estimated construction will take six months to a year.

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