Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 12:56pm |

Tsunami planning - Coastal evacuation plans

2 min read

Canterbury Coastal residents can be assured evacuation plans are in place in case of a tsunami event.

Police and Christchurch City Council staff have developed a plan for more than twenty three thousand coastal residents living between Waimakariri and Taylors Mistake.

"We have identified all 'at risk' areas along this coastal strip," says Inspector Craig McKay, Canterbury District Police, Operations Manager. "Evacuation teams consisting of Police, Fire Service, Christchurch City Council and Civil Defence Rescue staff will be mobilised within an hour of the decision being made to evacuate."

Systems of tsunami alert differ throughout the country. In the Canterbury area, which is likely to benefit from up to several hours warning, Police will evacuate the affected areas through the use of sirens, public address systems and door-to-door canvassing.

It is expected that the majority of residents will self-evacuate to friends or family outside the affected areas. Residents who are without an alternative safe place should go to the Addington Raceway/ Westpac Centre which will be set up as a welfare centre when required.

"Households should always be prepared in case of an emergency and should at least have a generic emergency kit, following the Civil Defence instructions in the back of the phone book if no other information is available," says Inspector McKay.

"On-going public education is going to be the key factor. It is estimated that the risks of such an event can be reduced by up to 90-95% if coastal residents are aware of the effects of a tsunami, and are prepared to respond when informed of an evacuation."

As part of this public education, Police and Council Civil Defence staff since June 2006, have conducted a series of meetings with various community groups, community boards and residents associations in the affected areas.

"These meetings are an opportunity for us to discuss the situation with local residents, who have valuable local knowledge, have them offer their views and make suggestions," says Inspector McKay.

"Through examination of recent international and historical local events we have a comprehensive plan but it is a living document that will continue to develop."

Inspector Craig McKay, Operations Commander, Canterbury District Police

Mr Murray Sinclair, Manager, Civil Defence Emergency Management, CCC