Effort to save funding for tsunami preparedness and education


Twenty members of Congress including Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata have asked the House Committee on Appropriations to save the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program which helps educate and prepare communities in the event of tsunamis.

Director of Homeland Security Samana Semo Veavea had written to Uifaatali last month saying states and territories funded by the National Tsunami Mitigation Program, which is administered by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, have received confirmation that funding from Fiscal Year 2024 in the amount of $2 million will be diverted to fund upgrades to the two tsunami warning centers. And for Fiscal Year 2025, NOAA is proposing to terminate the program completely, cutting the $6 million allocated to fund tsunami program activities for partner states and territories.

In a May 1 letter to Chairman Congressman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Congressman Matt Cartwright of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations, the Members of Congress requested a total of $31.7 million for NOAA’s Tsunami Warning Centers and for the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.

They said cuts to the program in the Fiscal Year 2024 enacted budget and the reduced request in the FY2025 budget threaten to jeopardize the safety of vulnerable coastal communities by reducing access to accurate information, early notification and guidance on proper action in the event of a tsunami.

The letter said that in January 2022, an eruption in the South Pacific Ocean resulted in a tsunami that hit the Kingdom of Tonga.

“Predictions for the timing and severity of the tsunami’s trans Pacific and global waves were inaccurate, partly because the volcanic eruption that caused the tsunami also caused an atmospheric shockwave,” they wrote. “This limited scientists ability to predict when waves would make landfall and resulted in waves hitting more intensely and earlier than expected.” Such world events demonstrate the importance of accurate and timely forecasting, the members of Congress urged.

“Although we hope to never experience the devastation of a tsunami event like that caused by the Tonga volcanic eruption, we must be prepared. Funding to the National Tsunami Hazard mitigation Program and Tsunami Warning Centers will improve readiness and forecasting to better protect our coastal communities.”