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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

RE: Surviving the great tsunami
By Paul Crowl


November 02, 2012
Friday PM

I rarely choose to take to a public forum to step in-between two opposing viewpoints, the one represented by Dave Kiffer's article "...surviving the great tsunami", and the other,  Brad Maushart's response of Oct. 30. But, I find myself appreciative of both perspectives. Though, I have to say that on the one hand, I find elements of Dave's original article a bit snarky, and elements of Brad's response a bit defensive.   

I too, shared Dave's first response to the earthquake itself, the bleeping washer is out of balance again, "as it is wont to do". (But usually in that case it is not the fault of the washer, but the human who overloaded it.) As I watched a lamp shake, and felt my couch move while watching Game 3 of the World Series, I wondered if I was imagining things. I also checked to see if it was indeed the washer  doing its dance. It wasn't of course! Tentatively, I took to Facebook, not wishing to be exposed as a Peter crying wolf, or a Chicken Little, and found confirmation that I was not hallucinating.

It was only later while talking to a friend on the phone that I realized that there was a tsunami warning. The "robotic cat in a blender" alert signal had not been broadcast by my tv provider. And while the annoying regular tests of the alert system usually occur in the middle of a favorite sitcom, reality show, sports event or news broadcast, in this case not hearing it, raised some questions in my mind. 

Brad Mushart's response reflects the delicate balance that agencies, such as the National Weather Service and local government, face in providing timely and accurate safety information to the public, and are well taken! He can take justifiable exception with Dave's, my and other's skepticism about the processes that are in place! I can remember a time when the only public alert/alarm system available in Ketchikan, was local radio and the siren mounted on top of the NBA building downtown. The installation of the siren was the result of a number of local disasters that took place back in the good ol' pre-Internet, cellphone, Facebook, Twitter, FEMA, TSA, Homeland Security, and NWS emergency broadcast days.  One might ask, were they really the good ol' days?

I took interest in Brad's points as a member of the public sector responsible for distributing important public safety information. An important job, one that he obviously takes very seriously, and as a member of the consuming public, I appreciate! When you hear about a Ketchikanite driving their truck down the Mountain Point Boat Launch last Saturday night to shine the headlights down on the incoming tsunami, you realize the difficulty of Brad's job! They got away with it, but think Malasia, they could have just as easily been a another piece of drifting debris, a victim of the catastrophic Tsunami of 2012. At the same time I would hope that Brad, like me, could find some humor in Dave's personal reflection of how he reacted to what was an unusual and fortunately uneventful situation.

I chuckled to myself as I read Dave's article (it reflected many of the same thoughts I had). Dave's commentary came from the perspective of a private citizen, a life long son of Ketchikan. But, Dave needs to remember that he, like Brad, is a member of the public sector, an elected Mayor of a government body. There may come a time (hopefully not) when it will be he who is called upon as a Mayor to be "the robotic cat in a blender".

Paul Crowl
Safely located on 3rd. Ave, above the tsunami of 2012, but not above the Lityua Bay Tsunami of 1958
Ketchikan, AK


Received October 31, 2012 - Published November 02, 2012


letter RE: "We all survived the GREAT TSUNAMI ALERT OF 2012!" By Brad Maushart

Related Column:

We all survived the GREAT TSUNAMI ALERT OF 2012! By DAVE KIFFER

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