WAILUKU - While the Hawaiian Islands could have hours to prepare for a tsunami that comes from across the Pacific, one originating locally could leave only a few minutes for people to escape, said a county Civil Defense Agency official.
"If you feel an earthquake that knocks you over, our advice is to get out of harm's way as fast as you can," said County Civil Defense Plans and Operations Officer Bob Collum. "Don't wait for a siren."
An earthquake that strong means its epicenter is very close. If it generates a tsunami, the wave could arrive within five or 10 minutes, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center might not get the information in time to sound an alarm, he said.
In that scenario, people should try to run to higher ground, not attempt to drive in a car, he said. Most people, especially in South and West Maui, would get away faster on foot.
"We feel there'd be so much traffic congestion - don't be part of it," he said.
Visitors in a hotel near the coast can make a "vertical evacuation" by looking for a building at least six stories high and moving at least as high as the fourth floor.
The foundation of a building that height should be deep and strong enough to withstand a tsunami, while a smaller building could be swept away, he said.
Tsunami evacuation zone maps can be found inside Maui telephone books. For more information about tsunami preparedness, visit the county Civil Defense Agency Web site at www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?nid=70.