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Professor: Budget Cuts To Tsunami Warning System May ‘Endanger The Country’

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(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

(CBS) Tom Reopelle
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SAN DIEGO (CBS) — If a deadly tsunami wave is ever headed for Southern California, emergency management personnel — and millions of residents — may have even less time to prepare for its impact.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports on the potential impact from proposed funding cuts to the nation’s tsunami warning and preparedness programs.

A proposed 2013 budget plan from the Obama administration would slash $4.6 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and likely affect the maintenance of dozens of high-tech buoys off the California coast that would confirm if a tsunami was about to hit the west coast.

If approved, the cuts would trim the already-tight funding limits for a program that one expert would potentially “endanger the country”.

“What they’re doing is the equivalent to unplugging your smoke detector in your house,” said Dr. John Orcutt, a professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “You have to accept an awful lot of risk if you decide to unplug that smoke detector.”

Coastal cities like Santa Cruz and Crescent City suffered over $58 million in damages from a tsunami resulting from a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan in March of last year.

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