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Waitakere Tsunami Siren Sytem Operational

Media Release

7 April, 2008

WAITAKERE TSUNAMI SIREN SYTEM OPERATIONAL

A new tsunami alerting and evacuation system for coastal locations in Waitakere City is now operational.

The system is the first in the Auckland region

The Meerkat Alert Systems sirens will be used to warn the public of any tsnami alert or evacuation requirement.

The system comprises a series of pole-mounted sirens situated at strategic locations where there are people living below 10 metres from sea level, who could be at risk from any major tsunami threat.

Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey is delighted that the alerting system is now in place.

“Following the disastrous Indian Ocean 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and a more recent tsunami scare, my council agreed to put a siren warning system in place as a matter of priority. As far as we are concerned, public safety is not negotiable and that includes the threat of any tsunami,” Harvey says.

“Having the system in place means that our coastal communities and visiting public can be informed of any threat by the push of a button. This sure beats the other option of having to listen for public broadcasts on TV and radio which is not much of an option if you want to alert people in the middle of the night."

“I would also like to thank Vector Power Limited for allowing us to use their power poles for the installation of many of the sirens. This community-spirited assistance has been very much appreciated.”

The siren system has three tones for alerting, immediate evacuation and all clear.

A city-wide public information programme has also been developed where the community is informed about the system, what it should do in the event of the sirens being activated and identifying the shortest route to safe ground.

“While the risk of a major tsunami affecting Waitakere is quite small, it cannot be discounted,” says Civil Defence Manager, Bill Morley.

“The system is the first of its kind in the Auckland Region and it is hoped that other councils will adopt the same system in the near future,’ he says.

“Regardless of the signal (alert only or evacuate), when activated, all beaches and foreshore areas are to be evacuated immediately. This point is particularly important for visitors to note who may not be aware of what the different tones mean.

The first live test of the system will be conducted at midday on 27 April where all tones will be sounded for one minute with a 15 second pause between each.

The siren system is the first step of three warning systems that the council is introducing.

The other two systems will allow for warnings to be broadcast via mass telephone messaging via the council's call centre and also a mass text messaging system.

ENDS

Attachment: Map of the areas where the sirens are in place.

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