New ZealandTsunami preparedness WREMO focus for quake anniversary
Tsunami preparedness WREMO focus for Kaikoura quake anniversary
The first anniversary of the Kaikoura earthquake is an opportunity for the Wellington region to reflect on what might have happened if the earthquake had struck during business hours and to practice tsunami evacuation skills that will help keep us safe if another quake comes, says Jeremy Holmes, Regional Manager Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO).
"Wellington was very lucky last year’s earthquake struck when it did, at 12.02am when most people were at home. If it had happened at 12.02pm, during a work day, it would have been a very different story. Not only is it likely that people would have been injured, some may have lost their lives," says Mr Holmes. “Also of concern was the potential tsunami risk. The earthquake could have triggered a tsunami that devastated some coastal communities. That’s one of the reasons WREMO is placing a strong emphasis on preparing for a tsunami evacuation as part of the anniversary.
In the same way we practice “drop, cover and hold” and fire drill evacuations, WREMO is encouraging all businesses, schools and childcare centres in tsunami evacuation zones to identify the nearest safe zone and do a “tsunami walkout” drill to higher ground on 14 November. The suggested time is 12.02pm, twelve hours after the Kaikoura earthquake struck. For households who live in tsunami evacuation zones, WREMO is encouraging them to do walkouts as a household, after dinner on the 14th. WREMO is working with councils around the region to promote the walkouts. It is also putting an earthquake guide in every letterbox in the region to help people plan and get better prepared.
“We know that preparation and planning not only increases your chance of getting through the emergency, it helps reduce the amount of time getting your life back to normal afterwards. After a long or strong earthquake, a tsunami could arrive in as little as 10 minutes. So it’s important everyone knows ahead of time where the nearest tsunami safe zones are and the quickest way to get to safety,” says Mr Holmes. “Trying to figure that out when there’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty, may be too late.
As part of the anniversary, WREMO will also be doing an earthquake exercise at its headquarters in Wellington. Some local hardware retailers are also offering specials on fix and fasten materials to help people quake safe their home.