Recent publicity produced by Civil Defence and Council for a meeting (held in Orewa last week) to inform people about preparedness and evacuation stated that “a large earthquake could cause a tsunami in Orewa similar to the one that hit Japan in 2011”.
Such a wave could arrive within an hour of the earthquake and knowing the warning signs and having an evacuation plan is the focus – Civil Defence has told the paper in the past that relying on technology is futile and no sirens, alerting or text message system would be useful here.
Safe zones and evacuation routes have been identified in Orewa and signs will go up next month to highlight these.
For obvious reasons, all the routes head from the coast onto higher ground via roads such as Riverside Rd, Florence Ave and Puriri Ave.
Because of its topography, Orewa has been chosen as a pilot area for a tsunami drill (HM March 2) that could be rolled out throughout Auckland. Residential properties near beaches and on low-lying land are at particular risk from tsunami and a report by the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences and the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research in 2010 demonstrated that Orewa and surrounding areas have one of the highest risks of inundation on Auckland’s east coast.
On Wednesday, May 25, the community as a whole is invited to join Orewa schools in a tsunami drill that involves walking to a safe area. Orewa Rotary is also hoping to get local businesses involved.
Council’s senior emergency management advisor North, Donna Murray, says that lessons learned from the Orewa trial will contribute to a tsunami preparedness project template that can be applied to other communities within Auckland. As well as the drill with Orewa College, Orewa North and Orewa Primary schools, the project includes installing tsunami signs, blue lines painted on footpaths to show where the largest tsunami could reach and indicate the safest zone, and Tsunami Information Boards.
“We are encouraging all the public in Orewa to identify their tsunami routes, and participate in the ‘Tsunami Walk’ on May 25, or during a time and capacity which suits,” Donna says.
The tsunami walk begins in the morning (9.30am) on May 25. More details of how the community can join in will be published in this paper as they become available.