[In] Jason Ono’s letter [“Do the panic,” Nov. 7], he accused Civil Defense and newscasters of having “blood on their hands” in their respective ordering and reporting of tsunami evacuations on Oct. 27. What he failed to inform your readers of is that they were responding to a very serious warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). A lack of tsunami buoys between Hawaii and Canada meant that there was very little clear wave data following the earthquake. Mr. Ono also betrays a lack of basic knowledge of tsunami science, falsely thinking that reefs and the direction tsunami waves come from may protect certain shorelines. I won’t even touch his baseless accusation that advertisers used the warning as an excuse to drum up sales.
Unlike previous tsunami warnings, the PTWC could only guess as to the potential severity of the waves. They had little choice but to issue a warning. Rightfully so, Civil Defense and our local media took the warnings seriously and properly informed the public of the potential danger. Had [they] failed to do so and a tsunami wave claimed even one life, Mr. Ono would likely have written a different letter accusing Civil Defense and the media of having “blood on their hands” for having failed to inform us.
The better way Mr. Ono calls for is to improve our science and place buoys between here and Canada. There is simply no excuse for having an utter lack of data with tsunami waves headed our way.
Michael Bischoff Honolulu, HI