Waikato updates tsunami advice with new hazard maps

7 December 2016, 05:06 PM

Waikato Civil Defence is updating the way it educates people about tsunami preparedness in the wake of the recent Kaikoura quake and subsequent tsunami alert.

It says the advice – using new hazard maps - is particularly relevant considering the ongoing potential for more big shakes and accompanying tsunami, given New Zealand’s geography and current conditions.

There is presently heightened uncertainty about the potential for another significant shake off the east coast of the lower North Island. That uncertainty is due to several slow-moving “slip” earthquakes identified by GNS.

“People need to remain aware of the potential for significant aftershocks or fresh quakes, as is the case at any time in New Zealand,” says Waikato Group controller Lee Hazlewood.

“Any significant quake off the lower eastern North Island brings with it the potential for tsunami, including along the east coast of our Waikato region. So, without wanting to overstate potential current risks, people do need to be prepared. People should, generally speaking, be ready at all times to take care of themselves for up to seven days after disasters.”

Mr Hazlewood said that Waikato Civil Defence had been working with Waikato Regional Council and local councils to proactively analyse risks faced by Waikato’s coastal communities. “We have mapped a number of our coastal communities for inundation hazard. These can help people prepare themselves, their families, businesses and organisations for tsunami.”

The maps of tsunami hazard zones are progressively being made available at http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Tsunamihazard/

Waikato Civil Defence stressed the general tsunami message for people in coastal communities is based around the long, strong, be gone theme. If people feel an earthquake that rolls for more than a minute or makes it hard to stand up, don’t wait for a tsunami warning. Move to high ground or as far inland as you can. Preferably, walk if you are able to keep our roads clear. Stay there until you get the all clear.

But Waikato Civil Defence is also making available online maps so that people can tell if they are in an area that doesn’t need to evacuate due to a tsunami alert. This is in response to people who live high enough not to be at risk. “When Civil Defence orders evacuations it will only call on people to evacuate if they are in areas susceptible to tsunami hazard, based on these maps. However, if people have any doubts about whether they are in such a susceptible zone they should evacuate regardless,” said Mr Hazlewood.

“By doing things this way, we can give people prompt warnings via alerting systems to evacuate, but people who are certain they don’t need to leave can stay put, thus easing congestion on roads and minimising inconvenience,” said Mr Hazlewood.

Waikato Civil Defence also stresses that in the event of any significant quake people should “drop, cover, hold” to help avoid injury. This makes you a smaller target, stops you being knocked over and protects your head, neck and vital organs.

A Red Cross hazard app which provides warnings via mobile phones is available from:

App store for iOS devices

Google Play store for Android devices

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.