My Turn: Lack of Kailua-Kona tsunami evacuation plan a concern

I read the article on Sunday’s front page regarding a possible “megatsunami.” Kwok Fai Cheung, a professor of ocean resources and geo-engineering at UH-Manoa, said “I’ve offered to help (Hawaii) County multiple times, even though his contract with the state had run out. So, Kailua-Kona, is not covered by the evacuation plan. This is concerning to say the least.

During the last tsunami warning, Alii Drive was a total disaster, bottlenecked, then to a dead stop at the top of Royal Poinciana Drive. From Kahalu’u Bay to the top of Kamehameha III Road, it took 10 minutes, then a car accident occurred at the top, it took 45 minutes back to Kahalu’u, then to a dead stop. Along Royal Poinciana, residents could not exit their driveway. Note that Kahakai Elementary School is at the bottom of this road. There was no escape, thank goodness there was no tsunami, or everyone would have dies.


Tsunamis here is not if, it’s when. We are in the High Hazard Coastal Zone. Tsunamis are triggered by earthquakes. Here on Alii Drive is certainly the worst case model, exceeds the evacuation plan, but is not covered by the evacuation plan? The word “superfluous” is mentioned in this article, meaning ”exceeding what is sufficient or necessary, extra, not needed, unnecessary, obsolete, marked by wastefulness.”

Most of the popular beaches for tourists and locals are on Alii Drive. Our main surf sites are there: Honls, Banyans, Lymans, and Kahalu’u. Millions of people in a year, thousands daily.

On March 11, 2008, the County of Hawaii police chief wrote a letter for an EA for a development on Alii Drive. Any additional development/project utilizing Alii Drive as its exclusive access will adversely impact traffic conditions throughout Alii Drive particularly during peak traffic hours or during an emergency condition. He recommended against any further development/project in this area until such times as the proposed Kahului-Keauhou Parkway has been completed and is open to traffic.

Alii Highway was stopped many times for years because of burials. This area is of the State Historic Preservation Division’s Kahalu’u and Keakealaniwahine. Chapter 6E of Hawaii Revised Statutes sets guidelines to ensure that preservation measures are taken and completed. Spiritual, traditional, and cultural importance. Developers no longer are allowed to take Hawaiian lands for granted, but are forced to respect the lands for what they were, and what they are. The rules help us preserve the history of ancient Hawaii.

With this being said, I do not see Alii Highway in the near future “completed” and “open to traffic.” What is of concern is all the development being submitted to the Planning Department furthering endangering the public ability to evacuate a tsunami or megatsunami.


Our evacuation plan receives an “F,” just like our cesspool/sewer plan.

Simmy McMichael is president of the West Hawaii Surfing Association.