Disaster Zone

Indonesian Tsunami Warning System — A Failure of Initiative and Follow-Through

Read the article and then substitute 'USA' for points where funding never came through or a lack of cooperation.

by Eric Holdeman / October 10, 2018

Personally, I'm tired of reading about the types of circumstances described in this article, Warning system might have saved lives in Indonesian tsunami. People know of a hazard. A big disaster happens (2004 Boxing Day tsunami — hundreds of thousands die) and then there is a scramble to do something — after the fact.

The Washington Post article describes the inability for agencies and governments to work in coordination with one another and to maintain, over time, a readiness posture for disasters. 

The United States is no better. We have a similar paltry approach to funding both tsunami warning and earthquake early warnings systems. Initially there is a flurry of activity and then — nothing.

I personally raised this issue with my Congressman, Denny Heck, Washington 10th Congressional District, buttonholing him and questioning why we can't get more done, and why do people have to die first to spur action by someone, anyone? His response: "Yes, that is apparently the system we have." Which is totally reactionary! As I've written recently, the Fire Marshall telling me, "Every line in the fire code is written in blood."  Are we not better than this?  Should we not expect more of our elected leaders in our states and Congress?

In all my years of trying to find legislative champions, I've only been successful with Jim Kastama, Washington state, 25th Legislative District, a former representative and senator who doorbelled me and then actually listened and acted on the issues I shared with him. Things did not happen overnight, but at least there was a champion for public safety as it concerned disaster preparedness and disaster resilience. He has since left the Legislature. He helped lead a compromise measure on the budget with Republicans and was pilloried by his party for his efforts. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans when it comes to bi-partisanship. 

Where is his federal or state counterpart willing to pick up the mantle of leadership on the principle of saving lives? It is a white knight issue and seems like a worthy endeavor to me.