Monday, November 16, 2015

Tsunami drills proposed for Auckland

Aucklanders may soon be expected to take part in evacuation drills as part of a proposed tsunami readiness programme.

The Auckland Tsunami Work Programme has been recommended for approval at Auckland council's meeting on Tuesday.

The work programme would have an emphasis on public education and evacuation drills to make sure Aucklanders and visitors to the city knew what to do in case of an emergency.

The first drill was scheduled to be held in Orewa early next year followed by a region-wide drill later next year. 

Head of Emergency Management Richard Woods was to make a presentation pulling on lessons learnt from his deployment to Chile after a recent earthquake and tsunami there.

The contingent including representatives from GNS Science, NIWA, Auckland Council and others, travelled to Chile in September to look at emergency responses to the tsunami event to fill gaps in knowledge here in New Zealand.

The group found the effectiveness of Chile's evacuation was due to clearly marked evacuation routes and annual drills.

People in Chile were found to have a very high awareness about what to do in an evacuation after an official warning. The government there had invested in technology to allow messages to be sent out within six minutes of an earthquake onset.

In contrast, New Zealand mobile phones do not support cell broadcasting technology and those in Auckland would rely on a range of public alerting options. 

The Auckland Tsunami Work Programme is to be completed by June 2017 and would include signage, marking out evacuation routes and safe zones on roads as well as evacuation drills.

Local boards would be encouraged to champion physical evacuation drills and support public education initiatives in their respective communities.

There will be neighbourhood specific evacuation maps.

If approved the programme would be implemented as part of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management departmental work programme and would be paid for under existing budgets.

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