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Big Island official documents are stored in tsunami zone

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HILO » Officials on the Big Island are considering what to do about documents sitting in boxes in a basement that’s in a tsunami zone.

Threats of tsunamis last year and in March prompted moving most of the more important documents to secure locations, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday. Some county employees had to move boxes of records from the basement when Hawaii braced for tsunami waves.

The county’s Committee on the Destruction of Records met Monday to look at options.

The group meets periodically to set standards for the retention and destruction of county documents. State law requires the county to keep important documents such as contracts for at least six years, when the statute of limitations runs out. 

Other records are kept longer, either in paper or electronic form.

County officials want to avoid having to safeguard documents from tsunamis by scanning more documents to make them digital.

County Finance Director Nancy Crawford, a member of the committee, was concerned auditors reviewing financial records would want to see original paper copies instead of scanned images.

"The question has always been what to do with the hard copies," said Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida, another committee member. "We try to make it clear that once the records are digitized and true copies are kept, the paper records can be destroyed."

The basement holds mostly older invoices and other similar documents.

"There are paper records in the basement there, but I don’t think they’re what you’d consider vital records," Crawford said.

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