Thou­sands at risk if tsunami hit

Western Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ZIZI SPARKS

Thou­sands of peo­ple at pop­u­lar beaches in Auck­land would be at risk if a tsunami struck in sum­mer, a re­port shows.

The Auck­land Tsunami Com­mu­nity Ex­po­sure Anal­y­sis re­port, com­mis­sioned by Auck­land Coun­cil, iden­ti­fied which com­mu­ni­ties had the great­est pop­u­la­tion ex­po­sure in the re­gion’s tsunami evac­u­a­tion ar­eas.

Eight of the 10 most af­fected ar­eas were in the Rod­ney, Hibis­cus and Bays and Devon­portTaka­puna lo­cal board ar­eas.

The ar­eas looked at in the re­port were in Auck­land’s ex­ist­ing or­ange and red tsunami evac­u­a­tion zones, which were largely low-ly­ing coastal ar­eas.

The re­port mod­elled three sce­nar­ios, in­clud­ing day, night and a fine sum­mer’s day. The last of

‘‘Peo­ple are a lot more aware. It's not so much a mat­ter of 'if', it's a mat­ter of 'when'.’’

John Wat­son, Al­bany ward coun­cil­lor

which was con­sid­ered the worst case and was how the com­mu­ni­ties were ranked.

Based on the worst-case sce­nario mod­elled in the re­port - a fine sum­mer’s day - the com­mu­nity with the high­est ex­po­sure was Orewa with 6521 peo­ple within the evac­u­a­tion area. Te Henga (Bethells Beach) was ranked eighth, with 1236 peo­ple within the evac­u­a­tion area.

Coun­cil­lor and deputy chair of the Civil De­fence De­fence and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee John Wat­son said Auck­land Coun­cil had $2.72 mil­lion in cap­i­tal fund­ing in the Long Term Plan for public alert­ing sys­tems.

‘‘I think a tsunami warn­ing sys­tem in Browns Bay and else­where is highly de­sir­able,’’ Wat­son said.

Wat­son said sirens as warn­ings were one of the most ef­fec­tive means of out­door mass no­ti­fi­ca­tions but needed to be used in con­junc­tion with other meth­ods like texts and so­cial me­dia.

‘‘Browns Bay and the other top-ranking ar­eas, they should be the first cabs off the rank,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not so the­o­ret­i­cal now, with Christchurch and Kaik­oura and some of th­ese big tsunami that have hap­pened over­seas. Peo­ple are a lot more aware. It’s not so much a mat­ter of ‘if’, it’s a mat­ter of ‘when’.’’

Twelve tsunami sirens were in­stalled in the Waitakere re­gion.

In Waitakere, they are at Bethells and Te Henga (8th), Piha (24th) Karekare (97th), Te Atatu (158th), Her­ald Is­land (90th), and Hob­sonville Air­base.

They are also at Huia and Lit­tle Huia, Whatipu and West­park Ma­rina which do not fea­ture in the study.

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