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Tsunami sirens to be tested

Tsunami sirens to be tested

On Sunday 6 April 2014, daylight savings weekend, Whangarei and Kaipara District tsunami sirens will be tested in coastal and harbour locations along the east coast from Bland Bay in the north of the Whangarei District, south through to Mangawhai Heads in the Kaipara District.

On Sunday 6 April 2014, the sirens will sound for 10 minutes at 9.20am and again for 30 seconds at 10am. Their blue lights will flash throughout the period of the test.

The network of 73 sirens is managed by the Whangarei District Civil Defence Emergency Management Officer Victoria Randall and maintained and activated with the assistance of Northpower using the existing ripple control system, free of charge.

“The biannual tsunami siren testing is an opportunity to educate people about what to do when the sirens are sounded,” said Ms Randall.
“The correct action for people to take when they hear the siren is to turn on the radio, TV, computer or to contact someone who can access these sources of information, to find out what is going on. Useful websites to check for information are: www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence, www.wdc.govt.nz or www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland.

“On Sunday 6 April, people should not hear that there has been an actual tsunami alert via the media sources mentioned, but just in case there is a billion-to-one coincidence and the test coincides with tsunami alert from the Ministry of Civil Defence, people who tune in will be given the information they need,” Ms Randall said.

“People sometimes ask why a tsunami siren doesn’t automatically mean to evacuate the coast. Giving people early warning that they need to seek information helps to prevent panic, ensures the public are well informed and ready to do what they need to when instructions to evacuate are given.”

“New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management gets information out to all media as soon as the possibility of a tsunami is known and we advise our coastal emergency networks and emergency services.

Information is received in Northland from the scientific team at the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and at that point the decision of whether or not to activate the tsunami sirens, will be made based on the level of risk stated in the information received. Tsunami sirens will always be activated if there is a threat to land and our communities.”

Ms Randall said there are 14 coastal communities identified within the Whangarei District. Each community has a Community Response Group, made up of volunteers from within that community. The group coordinators are the key contacts for Civil Defence and each group has developed a community response plan.
These plans are used by communities during a response to a Civil Defence event, including a tsunami.

The community response plans, evacuation zone maps and tsunami sirens are tools Civil Defence can use to alert and equip communities to respond to a tsunami event.

If you live on the Whangarei District coast and would like to know more about your nearest community response plan and evacuation zone maps, please contact Whangarei District Council Civil Defence Emergency Management Officer Victoria Randall, Northland Regional Council, 36 Water Street, Private Bag 9021, Whangarei, 0148, phone
09 430 4200.

The community response plans can be viewed at www.wdc.govt.nz/CommunitySafetyandSupport/CivilDefence/Pages/CDEM.aspx and the tsunami maps and information can be found at www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence/Tsunami.


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