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Auckland Response Improved

Thursday 4 May 2006

Auckland Response Improved

The Auckland Region’s initial response to the Tsunami alert this morning worked as it was supposed to once officials became aware of the threat.

Group Controller Harry O’Rourke says that despite an official warning not being received, he was pleased how Emergency Management duty staff responded once they became aware of the alert.

“The initial alarm was raised by staff at Auckland City Council’s call centre who had received calls from the public”, says Mr O’Rourke. “This was passed on from Auckland City to the Group duty officer, who notified key personnel and put a call into the Ministry for confirmation of the threat. Other Council call centres had also alerted their own Civil Defence organisations around the same time.”

“Cancellation of the Tsunami alert was quickly received before issuing of local warnings occurred,” said Mr O’Rourke.

The Auckland response to a Tsunami is based on receiving a warning from the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management in Wellington. No such warning was issued in relation to this alert.

“I think the Ministry will be examining whether that was an appropriate decision,” says Mr O’Rourke. “We need to remember though that we don’t know yet what information they based their decision on.”

However, Mr O’Rourke says that while a Tsunami activation is supposed to be triggered by an official warning, advice from members of the public is vital for other emergencies.

“In the case of an emergency such as more localised flooding, calls from the public could be the first way we hear of the problem”, says Mr O’Rourke. “The way the response to public calls was handled on this occasion was the pleasing thing for Auckland to come out of this alert”.


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