For the last six years, the final Wednesday of March has been an important day for residents across Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. At 11:00 a.m. on that day each year, wailing sirens warn residents of an impending emergency, as do the sudden emergency alerts that appear on television and radio. Community members are urged to move to a nearby emergency shelter set up by their local Red Cross chapter, the Humboldt-Del Norte Counties Chapter.
This isn’t a real emergency, of course. It’s the annual Tsunami Preparedness Drill, which aims to teach residents of these two vulnerable counties what they should do should a large earthquake off the coast trigger a tsunami. Many residents of both counties take part in a week-long series of events designed to help the community prepare for the possibility of a tidal wave.
As part of the drill, the Humboldt-Del Norte Counties Chapter as well as Red Crossers from as far away as Santa Rosa and Portland, Oregon, do their part by setting up mock emergency shelters. There, volunteers also help prepare residents for the possibility of a disaster by offering tips and advice on how they should react in a real-life situation. Barbara Caldwell, Red Cross chapter executive for Humboldt-Del Norte, stressed the importance of having a plan before a disaster strikes. She explained that in the event of a major earthquake, there may be very little time to make crucial decisions. That’s one reason why she, and many others, are grateful that a majority of the counties’ residents take the annual tsunami drill seriously.
The drill was made possible by cooperation of multiple agencies including, among others, Del Norte Ambulance, Crescent Fire Protection District, Del Norte County Office of Emergency Services, the California Office of Emergency Service, the National Weather, and the Civil Air Patrol.