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Communities Better Prepared For Coastal Hazards

People in coastal areas of Timaru District will have better awareness of tsunami risks and emergencies thanks to work by Timaru District Council Civil Defence and Environment Canterbury.

Twenty three tsunami bulletin boards have been placed in key areas along the coastline with updated maps to tsunami risk areas.

The council is also in the process of installing new emergency sirens at Washdyke, Ashbury Park and Redruth Dog Park, as well as upgrading existing sirens Caroline Bay, Timaru Hospital and Pareora to the new national standards.

The new risk signs have been informed by tsunami modelling which was completed by ECan as a part of a regional programme. Low lying and coastal areas are now categorised in three zones including red, orange and yellow.

The red zone includes beaches, estuaries, lagoons, harbours and river mouths. These are the areas most likely to be affected by a tsunami and that would experience the highest water depths and strongest currents.

The orange zone is less likely to be affected by a tsunami and includes low-lying coastal areas that are likely to be flooded in a large tsunami that inundates land.

Timaru also has yellow zones, which are areas least likely to be affected by a tsunami, but where it’s a good idea to still be aware of the risks

Timaru District Council, Mayor, Nigel Bowen said the upgraded signs offer people the clear information they need to keep themselves safe.

“Knowing where you are at all times in the Timaru District is the best way to keep yourself safe in an emergency. Keeping the community safe and prepared in case of an emergency is one of my top priorities.

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“If you are in a tsunami evacuation zone during an earthquake that lasts more than a minute, or a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, don’t wait for an official notification leave the RED and ORANGE evacuation zones as soon as the shaking stops.

“If it’s long or strong, get gone.”

The new sirens being focused on the places of highest risk would give people additional notification of an emergency, but were just one tool at the disposal of the council.

Timaru District Council Emergency Management Officer, Lamorna Cooper said the added sirens around the District will increase awareness.

“The main communication tool in an emergency is now the emergency mobile alert system but in areas near the coast the sirens are still an essential method of communication in an event of either a tsunami, flooding or coastal inundation.

“In selecting sites for siren upgrades and new sirens we have made sure we focus on areas close to the coast that have a dense population or where cell phone coverage can be patchy.”

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