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Dr. Walter Dudley
Dr. Walter Dudley; Tsunami Research and Support

Dr. Walter Dudley, Chair of the Pacific Tsunami Museum's Scientific Advisory Council, has been very busy with tsunami related activities. From December 13-24, 2006, he and Jeanne Johnston, Hawaii State Civil Defense Tsunami and Earthquake Disaster Planner, traveled to Kerala, India where the carried out video interviews with twenty tsunami survivors and the chief magistrate of the district.

Right: Dr. Dudley and an interviewee in Thailand
Dr. Dudley and interviewee

Tsunami meeting
In between interviews, meetings were held with tsunami researchers at Cochin University of Science and technology, and faculty and graduate students in the Disaster Management Program at Mahatma Gandhi University. In addition, Dudley and Johnston were the keynote speakers at a day long conference on disaster management held for secondary school teachers. The project in India was funded by the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System initiative.

Left: Community meeting in Thailand

Dudley was in Thailand from February 14-26, 2007 to help local officials in Ranong Province carry out tsunami evacuation drills and discuss final content for a tsunami safety exhibit for the new community center. Displays for the exhibit were fabricated by Gen Cain at the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Interactive kiosks were programmed by our own electronics expert, John Coney. Coney and Dudley traveled to Thailand in late April 2007 to install the kiosks and displays and to attend the opening of the exhibit.

Right: Dr. Dudley with Sumon Sangkaew and Mhaiyam Langnam in Thailand
Dr. Dudley with Sumon Sangkaew and Mhaiyam Langnam in Thailand


2008 Travels

Dr. Walter Dudley, Chair of the museum’s Scientific Advisory Council, has had another year dominated by foreign travel, working on tsunami education and mitigation projects.  In February he gave the inspirational address, “Remembering the Tsunami” at the opening session of the Post-Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods and Integrated Ecosystem Management workshop held at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. 


Three interviews with tsunami survivors were conducted in the jungle platform at a village outside Banda Aceh.

The team carrying out an interview with Mrs. Rinaldiana, a 30 year old mother, who lost her husband and children to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.



Right: Ten-year-old Meyda Sukmawanti was interviewed about the July 2006 tsunami at her school in Java.





From July 25 until August 14, 2008, Walt traveled in southeast Asia conducting interviews with tsunami survivors in Java where the July 2006 tsunami killed over 600 people. Among those interviewed were school staff, students, and villagers from various walks of life. The interview team was made up of Dr. James Goff and his wife, Dr. Catherine Chague-Goff from New Zealand and staff from the tsunami research program at the Technical University in Bandung, Indonesia.  Next the team traveled to Banda Aceh, Sumatra, “Ground Zero” for the catastrophic December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  There they carried out 15 powerful survivor interviews, some of which will become part of the Indian Ocean Tsunami exhibit opening later this year at the museum.



In August, Walt was an invited guest speaker at the North Pacific Tsunami Awareness Conference held in Honolulu.  The conference was sponsored by NOAA, the International Tsunami Information Center, and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission.   Walt gave presentations covering tsunami education and mitigation initiatives that included the new statewide school curriculum on tsunamis, a tsunami resilience guide for downtown Hilo businesses, the new exhibit on locally generated tsunamis in Hawai'i and the upcoming exhibit featuring the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 

The most unusual tsunami-related event for Walt occurred in May when he was an invited guest at the Cannes Film Festival for the screening of the documentary film, The Third Wave.  The film showed the devastating impact and arduous recovery from the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, where Walt has worked with survivors and scientists.  Those present included jury president Sean Penn, documentary film maker Michael Moore, and humanitarian Paul Hewson (better known as Bono, the lead singer for U2 ).  It was the first time in nearly 40 years that Walt has had to wear a tuxedo.

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Last Revised October 2008