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Know Your Zones

Tsunamis may one day hit our North Canterbury coastline.

There’s no need to live in fear, but there is a need to prepare.

Last year Environment Canterbury commissioned GNS Science to model impacts of various tsunami scenarios for coastal areas throughout the region.

Subsequently, it has revised and re-modelled some Tsunami Evacuation Zones, which includes Hurunui district.

Hurunui District Council (HDC) has been working closely with Environment Canterbury, neighbouring councils and local emergency services to create revised or refreshed evacuation zones and response plans for the Southern Hurunui coast.

At present, there is no change to Tsunami Evacuation Zones north of Waipara Rocks, several kilometres north of the Waipara River mouth.

This month, Allan Grigg, Emergency Management Officer for HDC, has dropped into community meetings at Amberley Beach, Leithfield Beach and Leithfield Village, to chat to residents about what Environment Canterbury’s revisions may mean for them.

Leithfield village is the only community in Hurunui with significant evacuation zone changes.

“It’s about education and keeping in touch with everyone, reminding communities to make sure they know their zones, and know what to do if an earthquake or tsunami hits their coastline.”

There are three zones on the revised map; yellow, orange and red.

“Overall our message has stayed the same – know what zone you are in and what it means. If the earthquake is long and strong, get gone.”

Main points:

Red evacuation zone; the area most likely to be affected by tsunami. It includes estuaries, rivers, beaches and harbours. A tsunami of any size could cause strong currents and surges in the water. Environment Canterbury advises that residents can expect to evacuate the red zone several times in a lifetime, and this zone should be departed immediately, if: there is a long or strong earthquake, or there is a sudden sea level change or unusual noises coming from the sea, or residents receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management.

Orange evacuation zone; the area less likely to be affected by tsunami. It includes areas on land that could be flooded in a large tsunami. Environment Canterbury advises that residents can expect to evacuate the orange zone a few times in their lifetime, and should leave immediately if: there is a long or strong earthquake, or a sudden sea level change or unusual noises coming from the sea, or residents receive a warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management.

Yellow evacuation zone; the area least likely to be affected by tsunami, but could be flooded or isolated in a very large tsunami. Environment Canterbury advises that it is possible this zone will be evacuated sometime in a lifetime, however it is unlikely. Residents do not need to leave this zone if they feel a long or strong earthquake, unless they receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management.

No zone; is an area outside the tsunami evacuation zones. Therefore, you don’t need to evacuate in a long or strong earthquake, you don’t need to evacuate during an official tsunami warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management, and you may wish to open your home to family or friends who need to evacuate from a tsunami evacuation zone.

Allan said the yellow zones are slightly different in Canterbury compared to the rest of New Zealand, due to our unique geographical hazards.

“Therefore, be sure to check the details of what zone you are in, whatever coastal area you are in within New Zealand. “In all other cases, check the council’s website for up-to-date information.”

https://www.ecan.govt.nz/your-region/your-environment/natural-hazards/tsunamis/tsunami-evacuation-zones-and-warnings/

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