Mar 11, 2011 8:52 PM by Danielle Lerner

Old and new techniques helped evacuate SLO County residents

Friday's tsunami warning triggered several evacuation orders along the San Luis Obispo County coast. Those residents have been allowed to return home and the beaches, harbors and piers are also back open.

People living in parts of Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Oceano, Cambria, Cayucos, Avila Beach and Port San Luis were asked to head for higher ground Friday morning. That is more than 1,000 people.

Deputies turned people away from places like the Embarcadero in Morro Bay and shut down roads in low-lying areas prone to severe flooding.

"Easier to close the road than have the potential for people getting in there, water coming in and people couldn't get out, or worse that they got caught in the tsunami," said Ron Alsop from the Office of Emergency Services.

Several law enforcement agencies worked closely with county administrators to carry out the evacuation plans.

"They were requested to leave and some chose to stay in their homes with the understanding of the dangers that were potentially approaching," said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson.

The Office of Emergency Services used geographical information system mapping and the county's tsunami inundation maps to hone in on the problem areas.

"We used our existing tsunami inundation maps and the information provided from the tsunami warning center on how high they thought the waves might be," said Alsop.

It also activated the county's new reverse 911 system to help alert residents of possible danger.

"Reverse 911 worked relatively well, we'll have to look at the numbers and statistics after the sheriff department's process," Alsop said.

A team effort, to keep our communities safe.

"This incident has shown that state, county and local government can come together and work together," said Robert Lewin, San Luis Obispo City fire chief.

Overall, the agencies involved in Friday's evacuations say everything went very smoothly. Still, they will be reviewing their actions to see if there is anything that could have been done differently.

The Office of Emergency Services is asking people in San Luis Obispo County to register their cell phones in the reverse 911 directory. You can do that on the sheriff's department web site. We have posted a link in the Newslinks section of ksby.com.


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