People ‘pretty quick’ to act after tsunami warnings – Civil Defence

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2021-03-06 01:06:15

A Civil Defence official says word-of-mouth was vital in getting out evacuation orders in the Bay of Plenty following a tsunami warning.

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People also evacuated in other parts of the North Island, including Great Barrier Island and Northland.
Photo: RNZ / Ella Stewart

Householders in the region fled to higher ground from Matata to Cape Runaway after three large seabed quakes – two of them 1000 kilometres to the north in the Kermadec Islands – triggered surges in currents and tides around the North Island.

The region’s group controller, Matt Harrex, said the community stepped up during the emergency.

“The community took action pretty well. We’ve actually heard of people taking action when they felt the natural warning signs before they received a formal warning.

“But those that didn’t feel it – when they heard the message – our reports are the community was pretty quick to take those evacuation orders.”

Harrex said people also warned others who don’t have cellphones that they needed to flee.

Maraenui between Te Kaha and Ōpōtiki township on State Highway 35

Maraenui between Te Kaha and Ōpōtiki township on State Highway 35
Photo: Supplied / Louis Rapihana

A Whangārei Primary School will dissect its response to the tsunami warnings to work out how its emergency plan can be improved.

More than 300 pupils at Parua Bay School, 21km east of Whangārei and just 200 metres from the beach, were moved to a local community centre.

Principal Mark Ashcroft said he was happy with how everyone remained calm, but the school can still learn from the event.

Ashcroft praised staff, students and parents for remaining calm through the evacuation.

He said there could have been problems if the pupils were stuck at the centre longer, and parents were unable to get there.

Gisborne woman Christine Light said she didn’t receive a mobile phone warning about the tsunami evacuation early yesterday.

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake off the East Cape struck just before 2.30am and people in part of the east coast of the North Island were urged to move to higher ground.

Light said she was woken up by a long rolling earthquake and her sister phoned to ask her to evacuate.

Aftershocks continue

Weaker quakes have continued to be recorded off the East Cape overnight.

All together nine quakes occurred about 130km to 150km east of Te Araroa – two at close to 1am, five at close to 5am and two at close to 7am.

These quakes were marked either as weak or unnoticeable.

Geonet said there was a 4.4 quake 150km east of Te Araroa just before 6.45am and a 4.7 shake 135km east of Te Araroa just before 8am.

The agency said the most likely scenario in the next 30 days is that further quakes of smaller magnitude will occur – and less often.

Tsunami safety campaign planned

The Emergency Management Minister Kiri Allan said that the government had been planning to soon launch a tsunami safety campaign soon.

Allan said she was impressed by the number of people who knew to either evacuate or move to higher ground following the quakes.

She had been due to look over plans for a public safety campaign this weekend.

“This has now consolidated or affirmed the necessity for doing that. I think one of the key takeaways – [we are] islanders of a small Pacific nation that is surrounded by coastlines. Tsunamis are a big part of our lives.”

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