Is the port of Napier a tsunami threat to the city of Napier? Manufactured with funding from NZ On Air.
Imagine a long, powerful earthquake hitting Hawke’s Bay and a 2011 Japan-rivaling tsunami making its way to Ahuriri.
But thousands of residents awake in the area’s tsunami zones decided it was a good idea to check Facebook to see what to do.
This is a worst-case scenario in an already worst-case scenario, says the Hawk’s Bay Civil Defense Emergency Management.
Don’t check social media for advice. Don’t search the internet. Don’t wait for the sirens. Just go uphill or inward right away.
That’s the main message behind a new campaign to make sure everyone who lives or works on the 20,000 Hawk Bay properties in tsunami evacuation areas knows what to do.
A GNS-led research paper published last week concluded that there is a 26 percent chance of a major earthquake potentially causing a tsunami near the east coast of the North Island in the next 50 years, he said.
Ian MacDonald, an observer for the Hawk’s Bay Emergency Management Group, said the Hikurangi rift was “a boundary very similar to the slab that ruptured off the coast of Japan, and a tsunami as devastating as the one that hit the country in 2011″ could happen very easily. Here”.
“It’s a question of when, not whether, the tsunami will affect Hawk’s Bay,” MacDonald said.
A tsunami like what happened in Japan in 2011 “could happen very easily here”. Photos/Getty Images
But he said that while the civil defense mantra “Long or strong – go” is well known, it wasn’t clear that residents knew exactly which properties to vacate, he said.
So as part of the campaign, all residences, businesses and homes in Hawke’s Bay tsunami areas will be sent a letter and an outdoor gradient sticker with their area on it.
They then have to paste it on their mailbox.
MacDonald said that everyone in all evacuation zones — red, orange and yellow — needs to evacuate if they feel a long or strong earthquake.
Zones are used when a tsunami comes from far away, so there is time for warnings and planned evacuations, but if a tsunami occurs off the coast, people will feel an earthquake.
“When that happens, don’t wait for a warning or official advice. We don’t have time to warn the occupants of more than 20,000 properties. We need to have a plan and they go.”
“Even if the electricity and internet are still working after the earthquake, it takes time to get the information posted online; people should use that time to evacuate.
“An earthquake may be the only warning you get. There will be no sirens; there will be no knocks on your door.
Hawk’s Bay Emergency Management Group controller Ian MacDonald with new mailbox stickers being sent to those in the tsunami evacuation area. The attached photo
MacDonald said Napier has old public sirens that some thought would be used, but in fact they were never used to warn of a locally sourced tsunami in Hawk’s Bay.
“There will be no time for an official warning, and the siren system is likely to be damaged or go out of power after shaking, which is what happened in Japan, even with modern, stationary sirens.
“Once the earthquake stops, get everyone in your house together, bring your emergency bags and your pets – if they’re with you – and get out of there.”
He said Hawke’s Bay residents who felt the major earthquake at 2.30 a.m. in March should be congratulated and evacuated themselves.
“They didn’t wait for another signal to evacuate and that was the right thing to do. They’d better err on the side of caution.”
If you live or work in evacuation areas, you need to:
Make a plan and know where to evacuate once the shaking stops.
Have your emergency bag ready and accessible at all times and contain essential items including water, spare medication, snacks and pet food. You should be able to carry it on foot.
Know where your shoes and torch are – especially at night when you’re likely to get disoriented if you wake up to an earthquake.
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