Tsuanmi Test Generally Well Heard

A survey following the recent tsunami siren soundings at Amberley Beach and Leithfield Beach has revealed they were generally audible to most homes in the communities – with some exceptions.

Emergency Management Officer, Allan Grigg, says the majority of residents who sent back survey forms had heard the sirens sounding - some only faintly, but most reported they were loud or very loud.

Most reported little difference in the volume of the soundings, though for a few, some were clearer than others.

Most of those who responded were inside, generally in the kitchen, bathroom or lounge, either watching television or listening to the radio, reading, and sewing, entertaining friends or working on computers.

In most cases their windows were shut. A few were in their garage, garden on driving.

While around one sixth of the respondents did not hear anything at all, less than half a dozen who were then alerted to the sounding by family or neighbours had still failed to hear it.

This is the second test sounding of the sirens – part of a bi-annual regime to help confirm their reach in the event of an emergency.

Emergency Management Officer, Allan Grigg, is happy enough with the results, given he says it was never expected the sirens would reach everybody within a community, given the potential impact of wind direction coupled with certain noisier activities people may be engaged in.

“While we had some people who didn’t hear the sounding, in a real event the sirens would sound for a full 15 minutes, seven times longer than the test run, providing a much more significant window of opportunity for residents to hear a warning.

“Given the majority has reported hearing the short burst, I am sure that by the end of that time there would be few members of the community who would not be aware the siren had sounded, - whether they heard it personally or not we now know enough people would, to ensure their friends and neighbours were alerted one way or another.”

While he is comfortable with the siren’s performance he is urging residents not to come to rely on them alone.

“They need to have their own tsunami evacuation actions clear in their own minds and be prepared to heed the natural warning signs – extreme ground shaking, damage to buildings, strange sea movements.

“Because at the end of the day, regardless of whether the sirens can be universally heard, there may not always be enough time to trigger them before a locally generated wave reaches shore.

“That’s why it is important residents of coastal areas continued to brush up on their emergency planning and know what to look for and what to do, without waiting to be prompted by a siren.”

A regional tsunami – the MOST LIKELY - will be between one and three hours away, while a local tsunami – the most dangerous – may only give a few minutes warning.

Anyone at the coast who feels a strong earthquake or sees the sea bubbling, receding (the waterline moving away from the shore), or making a roaring sound, should IMMEDIATELY MOVE to higher ground at least 35 metres above sea level or at least 1km inland – and not return to the sea until they have been told it is safe to do so (this could be 24 hours or longer).

For further information contact:

Allan Grigg

Emergency Management Officer

Hurunui District Council

03 314 0024