No tsunami warning siren for Porirua
The best warning of an approaching tsunami in Porirua is an earthquake and those waiting for a siren put themselves at risk, say experts.
Talk of community responses to a natural disaster come after the recent Kaikoura earthquakes, which left many confused about the circumstances in which they should evacuate.
Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (Wremo) agree that Porirua is at high risk for a locally-generated tsunami, but currently, an earthquake is the only immediate warning of a tsunami.
Residents have questioned why there is not a better warning system in place for Porirua, particularly when Lower Hutt has a series of sirens to warn of a tsunami or flooding.
Wremo senior emergency advisor for Porirua, Trevor Farmer, said earthquakes do the job of a siren.
‘‘If you’re relying on the siren you ignore the actual warning. You must act on the natural source - the earthquake.’’
A siren is not a practical option at a local level as offices that would be in charge of monitoring the siren would evacuate too, Farmer said.
The message is: if an earthquake is long and strong, or short and violent, be gone.
‘‘The onus is on the individual - whose responsibility is it for your life?’’
Mana MP Kris Faafoi said that in the short term people had to accept that there was not currently a warning system in place.
‘‘Being prepared is the most important thing and people should do this by having supplies and getting to higher ground.’’
As for the long term, Faafoi said the Ministry of Civil Defence’s chief executive had told him that they were looking into a national text message warning system, which should be implemented in the next 18 months.
Ideally, Faafoi would like a siren and a nation-wide text message system.
Porirua mayor Mike Tana doubted the need for a siren.
‘‘If a big quake ruptures the seabed in Cook Strait, waiting for a siren would not be appropriate. People need to flee as quickly as possible.’’
For more information on being prepared for a tsunami, read our new Civil Defence column, P26.
Signs will be displayed on the highway, such as this one from the November 14 Kaikoura quake.