[thechat] Tsunami toll: 52000

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Wed Jan 5 10:02:56 CST 2005

Judah McAuley (and other folks) said some nice stuff:

>>Actually, I'm willing to bet that tens of thousands of lives would 
>>have been saved by a warning system. ... lots of other places had 
>>an hour or more that could have been used to get away from the coast 

Okay. I might agree. ... but lets talk more about that warning system ...

>>I grew up on the Oregon coast. We had tsunami drills and this was 
>>20 odd years ago. Have we had a devestating tsunami recently? No. But 
>>we still have a warning system in place. 

Please understand that I'm not knocking the importance of those drills. 
Sure, I grimace when we have a fire or tornado drill in whatever office 
building I happen to be in. I've rolled my eyes when the cities I've 
lived in have tested their antique air raid sirens.  I've seen footage 
(but not participated in) 'shark sighting' drills from coastal areas.

Now lets talk scope. What kind of area did those tsunami drills cover? 
One public beach? One mile of coastline? One city? One county? ... Or 
the entire public and private coastline for the fine State of Oregon? 

[Heck, our office fire drills these days are usually restricted to 
selected floors of selected buildings - they are rarely comprehensive.] 

The logistics, the personnel, the training, the communications necessary 
for Large scale drills and evacuation ... are neither simple nor 
inexpensive. (I would also note quickly in passing that ten 100 person 
drills do not equate to one 1000 person drill.)

>>India (or Thailand, I forget) even had a Typhoon warning system in 
>>place for fishing villages...but for what ever reason, it was not 
>>even triggered for the tsunami in spite of having a couple hour lead 

Okay. That might not be too much of a surprise. I don't think a typhoon, 
(these days anyway - as opposed to say Galveston in 1900) is a "surprise" 
event ... they can take days to develop. They are closely monitored ... 
and the folks with the authority to push the 'alert' button have probably 
had a number of briefings beforehand to appraise them of the possibility 
that they will need to issue that warning. 

If the warning system needs several levels of 'authorization' before 
the warning is issued (which would not be at all surprising) ... then 
that system may not have been flexible enough to react ... despite a 
couple hours of lead time.

My guess is there is a lot of politics involved ... 

>>People are now looking at creative ways to get the word out 
>>...like SMS alerts. 

? I certainly support creative thinking ... but SMS alerts? It might 
be a very good idea ... generate automated calls and SMS to everybody. 
I wonder, however, how the privacy advocate folks will react to granting 
government the power (assuming they don't have it today - I'm not a cell 
tech wizard by any stretch) to broadcast messages to all citizens. 
... not to mention giving the spammer/cracker crowd another tool to 
annoy us all with ...

>>We just need to do a better job of getting the word out to areas 
>>potentially effected.


>>It was a natural disaster of truly global proportions. But if I were 
>>in an affected area, my grief and shock would be quickly followed by 
>>some very tough and pointed questions for my government. I can only 
>>hope that this will result better disaster planning and warning systems 
>>for everyone involved so that when this happens again, it won't be 
>>quite so deadly.

+1! ... I agree with the wish ... my concern is that the reality will 
be money spent on things that don't work ... but are highly visible ... 
and designed to keep those in office ... in office. 

[American airport security anyone?]

>>Terry shared a nice news story about a 10 year old girl saving a lot 
>>of lives in Thailand ... 

Thanks Terry! That was a very nice story!

It worries me a bit on a personal level though ... I tend to ignore 
shouting or hysterical 10 year old girls at the beach ... I generally 
assume that their rotten brothers have simply teased them into a tizzy. 

(It probably stems from *being* one of those rotten brothers myself.)

I would, however, have listened to an 'official looking' adult (whatever 
_that_ means ... orange vest, perhaps ... proximity to a vehicle displaying 
a crest and a flashing light) ... issuing a verbal warning (in a language 
I could understand) through some kind of powered megaphone device.

... and, to me, the ability to train, equip, and deploy enough of these 
kinds of people is what would have constituted an adequate "warning system" 

... and I still can't fault these areas for not having that in place.


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