While residents may only feel up to handling one life-altering disaster at a time, emergency service officials warn that even in the midst of a pandemic, seaside dwellers should be preparing for the possibility of a tsunami.

Newly updated hazard maps show that a tsunami wave has the potential to inundate Santa Monica’s beaches, the pier, sections of Ocean Park, and the entire area of Venice south of Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

This is a worst case scenario and very alarming prospect, but officials emphasize that with preparation and awareness residents can greatly mitigate the risk they face in the event of a tsunami.

“If we do a good job in the preparedness phase, the actual response phase becomes not nearly as complex, but if we are not prepared the loss of life and infrastructure can be devastating,” said Thomas Ewald, deputy fire chief, County of Los Angeles Fire Department.

There are two types of tsunamis that could strike L.A. County — a local tsunami and a teletsunami.

The first type of tsunami is smaller in magnitude. It would be generated by a nearby earthquake and arrive within an hour or even just a matter of minutes. In this scenario the first warning sign would be a felt earthquake and officials say residents should not wait for an emergency notification before evacuating.

“If strong shaking occurs while you’re at the beach drop cover and hold on during the earthquake portion and then immediately evacuate by walking to higher ground,” said Lindsay Call, Santa Monica chief resilience officer.

A more dangerous teletsunami is generated by a faraway earthquake under the sea.

It was this type of tsunami that devastated vast portions of Japan in 2011. While the Japanese coastline had sprawling seawalls prepared for a one in 500 year disaster, this was a one in a 1000 year disaster that the region was not equipped for.

Learnings from this tragic incident have informed California’s newly expanded tsunami hazard maps and disaster preparation efforts.

Scientists have discerned that a worst case scenario tsunami in L.A. County would be generated by a 9.3 Richter earthquake in the Aleutian Trench off the Alaskan coastline.

“It would take five to six hours for a tsunami to arrive in LA from this region, which provides everyone enough time to evacuate by foot,” said Nick Graehl, engineering geologist, California Geological Survey. “We don’t recommend evacuating by car as you can easily get stuck in a traffic jam.”

In the case of a teletsunami, warnings will be issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center and L.A. County Office of Emergency Management and its partner authorities.

Santa Monica Chief Resilience Officer Lindsay Call also recommends residents sign up for the City’s local emergency notification system by texting “SMalerts” to 888777. This system will share tsunami warnings and evacuation information alongside a range of other public safety information.

Officials also advised everyone living by or visiting LA’s beaches familiarize themselves with their local tsunami hazard areas by studying the latest maps at www.tsunami.ca.gov.

“The important thing is to be aware of your hazards,” said Graehl. “Your community is only as safe as your understanding and your commitment to make it a tsunami resilient place.”

Clara@smdp.com