Community Commentary: Is coastal Orange County tsunami ready?

As the Fukushima Daichi nuclear tragedy in Japan continues to unfold, some Orange County residents wonder what it might be like if anything like it happened here.

Such a nightmare for folks along the Orange Coast would impact us all. A tidal wave of surge refugees would sweep inland.

All reasonable preparatory steps should be taken. That's easy to say but daunting even to think about.

We shrink from the implications of breached nuclear generation stations. Minute radioactive sparklers are now making their way into Japanese flesh, blood and bone.

About San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) fronting the Pacific just south of the Orange County line, we wonder whether a tsunami and/or earthquake might unleash its sparklers.

Official reassurances this could not happen include referral to a "30-foot-high" barrier wall across its shore side.

But height and sturdiness may not be all that is called for. Where barriers are sited, as well as how they are designed to handle an incoming surge, may turn out to be life-and-death important.

All of us want to believe nothing like this could ever happen here.

Millions, whether they know it or not, are betting their lives and the lives of their families, friends and neighbors on that belief.

But whose responsibility is emergency response?

If you don't know, maybe you should find out. Don't ignore the question. Don't just point every which way but home.

How come the Dana Point is the only city on the Orange Coast with an official tsunami-ready community logo on its website?

Why does the city of Huntington Beach test sirens monthly and web-post its tsunami evacuation map?

Why is even the word "tsunami" missing from the Seal Beach city website? Such a sea surge there would abruptly create a human tossed salad.

Where on the city of Newport Beach website is there information about a tsunami that could sweep its peninsula and everything in and around its harbor? A Newport Beach inundation map posted elsewhere on the Web suggests an incoming tsunami might run its upper bay inland like a UC Irvine freshman late for class.

Where on the Web, or anyplace else, does the city of Laguna Beach make public that its downtown — already forewarned by surge nudges — could be gigantically wet-mopped by a tsunami?

Most of the San Clemente runs inland from seaside bluffs, but where it doesn't you may see at least some tsunami-hazard signage. Warnings appear on roads entering either end of its marina/coastal park area.

There is even one in Capistrano Beach, a mile inland on Doheny Park Drive, just before Costco.

Some city of San Clemente tsunami hazard signage shows up on the shoreside of the coastal railroad track crossings favored by beachgoers.

It's better than the absence of any at neighboring San Onofre State Beach and SONGS.

A few years ago, the tsunami bell tolled in the Indian Ocean. A few months ago, it tolled in the western Pacific, a clang that smashed ashore on Hawaii's Big Island Kona Coast and devastated California's Santa Cruz boat harbor while pounding our Humboldt shoreline.

Where will it toll next?

GALAL KERNAHAN is a Laguna Woods resident.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World