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Volcano exercise a blast from the future

Volcano exercise a blast from the future

by: Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group - 16 August 2010

Mount Taranaki is on the brink of a virtual eruption, and the people of the region are being offered a ringside seat.

Registrations opened today for Taranaki Blowout (www.taranakiblowout.org), an internet-based community exercise to be based on an eruption scenario and aimed at increasing people's understanding and preparedness.

Taranaki Blowout will run for six weeks from mid-September, with registered participants to get email alerts as "volcanic activity" steadily increases in line with the scenario developed by volcanologists.

"Not only will participants gain a better understanding of how an eruption is likely to unfold, they will also get good advice and information on how to prepare now for the day it happens in reality," says Taranaki Blowout spokesman Mike Langford.

"We're anticipating a lot of interest, especially as the best scientific advice is that there's a one in two chance of an eruption within the next 50 years."
The exercise is being organised by the region's Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, with whom Mr Langford serves as the Taranaki Regional Council's Senior Emergency Management Officer.

"We're confident this will be New Zealand's biggest community-based volcano exercise," Mr Langford says. "Previous exercises here and elsewhere have involved Civil Defence and other agencies, but this one is all about public involvement."

Taranaki Blowout will include information and advice tailored for three groups:
• Individuals and households
• Businesses
• School teachers

"So whether you're at home, school or work, this is an opportunity for you to learn and understand more about our mountain and the impacts of an eruption, and what you can do to be prepared," says Mr Langford.

The New Zealand Red Cross New Plymouth branch is a partner in the exercise, which is also being supported by GNS Science, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, M&O Pacific and Powerco.

Taranaki Blowout will culminate during Get Ready Week (formerly Disaster Awareness Week) and the CDEM Group is planning follow-up surveys to assess the effectiveness of the campaign.

To find out more about the exercise, go to www.taranakiblowout.org.
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