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Updated 4:46pm - Sep 16, 2014

Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Our View: Fingerpointing over tsunami helps no one

Our View: Fingerpointing over tsunami helps no one

There's one thing all parties involved in failing to warn Crescent City of a tsunami on Nov. 15 agree: A breakdown in communication occurred.

Unfortunately in the days following the devastating tsunami, there was great disagreement and a lot of fingerpointing about exactly where that breakdown occurred. Harbor and county officials said the state Office of Emergency Services didn't inform them of the impending tsunami. The OES said the National Weather Service didn't provide their office with the information needed to issue a warning. Newscasters and reporters in Los Angeles and San Francisco hinted that county officials didn't pay attention to the warning issued.

Fortunately, no one died or was injured during the Nov. 15 tsunami. But with a $1 million in damage to the harbor and boats moored there, people's livelihoods were devastated.

The fingerpointing cannot continue. Indeed, it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

The job of government officials – federal employees at the National Weather Service, state workers at the Office of Emergency Services, county staff and the harbor district – in part is to protect lives and property. If we are to prevent the same mistake from occurring again, we must determine where the breakdown happened, then fix it. Fingerpointing doesn't get us here.

Many of the same officials quoted in today's cover story about the breakdown met Tuesday in Crescent City to make that very determination. There was some posturing, but once the facts were presented, the conclusion mirrored precisely what The Daily Triplicate found in an investigation we've been conducting for the past three weeks: Someone at the state Office of Emergency Services sent the warning to Humboldt County, think that was where Crescent City is located.

A committee has been formed to determine how to prevent that from mistake from happening again. May we suggest one simple solution that would save a lot of time and travel: the state staffer issuing the warning first should look at a map.

Of course, ensuring Crescent City receives the warnings it needs to protect lives and property is a lot more complicated than that. Through the rest of the week, we plan to offer some informed suggestions about how that might be done. We're not interested in fingerpointing – just identifying the problem area and solving it, once and for all.

 

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