Sunday, August 19, 2007


During dinner one night Joe gets a phone call from his father in law in San Jose. An earthquake just hit Peru and they have issued a Tsunami alert for the pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Estimated time to hit the coast was around 9:30 pm. Next thing I know we are packing extra water, clothes, bug spray and any other survival gear we may need into the car. Everyone is trying to get more information and rumors start flying.The town soon has emptied along the coast and is seeking higher ground. Cars are starting to park in the emptied lot next to Joe's to get some higher ground. Ticos with their backpacks are walking up the hills. Finally we get word that the wave is only going to be about a meter high and will hit at low tide. Here is an excerpt from the Tico Times on August 17th.

Tsunami Warning Stirs Pacific Coast

A tsunami that never happened was all the buzz in Costa Rica yesterday after a false alarm rattled the Pacific coast Wednesday night.

An earthquake in Peru measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale earlier that day led the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to issue a tsunami alert for the entire Pacific coast of South and Central America.

Costa Rica's National Emergency Commission (CNE) got the word out via radio and TV news that those within 500 meters of the coast should head inland since the tsunami, or tidal wave, was likely to hit at 9:30 p.m.

Less than two hours later, word trickled through the country that it was a false alarm. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled all warnings, but continued to monitor sea levels �just in case anything developed,� said the center's oceanographer Dailin Wang.

By that time, beach communities along the coast had already emptied � causing traffic snarls, panic, and frantic news reports.

Conflicting reports were out yesterday as far as how the country fared in its response to the disaster.

National Emergency Commission (CNE) President Daniel Gallardo said that overall, the country earned high marks for its performance.

�We're very happy with the country's response... people calmly moved away from the coast,� he said, praising the media's work alerting the population and the Red Cross' and Firefighters Corps' helping people evacuate.

But Guillermo Quirós, director of the Coastal Institute and a tsunami expert in Heredía, north of San José, wasn't so sure.

He and other tsunami experts feel much work is needed before Costa Rica can get accurate information to the public during tsunami situations. They're hoping this trial run will spur the country into action to better prepare for the real thing.

No comments: