PRiMO is a consortium of local, national, and regional agencies, institutions, and organizations committed to enhancing hazard resilience in the Pacific. This year’s meeting, which focused on inundation-related coastal hazards, was attended by approximately 80 participants representing governments, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Historically held in Honolulu, the meeting was moved to Guam this year to facilitate the participation of partners from the Western Pacific.
The images mentioned above, which were presented by Johannes Berdon, Officer in Charge at the NOAA National Weather Service station in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, were encountered during the December 2008 high-tide inundation event in Chuuk – one of a number of Pacific island locations that recently experienced inundation. The Chuuk event occurred because of a combination of several factors: a high surf event, a northern swell, and a higher La Nina sea level. Some of the seawater went 70 to 100 feet inland and contaminated ground water within hours.
Other speakers at the meeting included the Honorable Felix P. Camacho, the Governor of Guam, who expressed his support for PRiMO and encouraged efforts to work together to develop and deliver timely risk management information and services. Other speakers addressed tropical cyclone driven storm surge, Pacific Island tsunami inundation modeling, and threats from sea level rise.
“Capturing the social, physical, economic, and environmental impacts of inundation events like this on low-lying islands is of great help to decision makers,” said Dr. Melissa Finucane, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and Principal Investigator of Pacific RISA, a program designed to facilitate the management of climate risks in the Pacific. “Combining quantitative information from models and physical assessments with qualitative information from narratives and pictures helps coastal communities to evaluate the risks being faced and what needs to be done in response to those risks.”
The importance of assessing the socio-economic vulnerability and resilience of Pacific Islanders to inundation hazards was addressed by Cheryl Anderson, Director of the University of Hawai‘i Social Science Research Institute and Co-Investigator on the Pacific RISA project. “Understanding the short-term and long-term costs of inundation events is key to preparing for and mitigating the impacts of potential hazards,” said Dr. Anderson.
A substantial portion of the meeting involved small-group discussions to identify needs and gaps in knowledge related to hazard and community resilience information. The meeting identified actions and opportunities to enhance communication and collaboration among people involved in risk management around the region. Meeting documents including presentations and photos can be found at the PRiMO website http://www.primohui.org .
The EAST-WEST CENTER is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and the governments of the region.