The Thames Coromandel District Council is holding a public forum on the 12th April to share with residents and bach owners why the tsunami sirens in the district are being disconnected later this year. Council representatives will share the alternative measures that are being put into place. The information in this article has been provided by the Council as a background to this change of tsunami alert systems.
Non compliant tsunami sirens
The Coromandel's tsunami sirens are not compliant with national standards released in 2014. Between 2016 and 2020 the Council investigated Indoor Alerting Devices as an alternative. This investigation was discontinued because cellular and broadband coverage in our district had significantly improved and because there were new, better, alerting methods.
The National Emergency Management Agency directed the Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) in 2020 to either make the tsunami sirens compliant with the national standards or disconnect them. All but nine of the 27 sirens in the district are attached to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) fire siren network, the Council agreed with FENZ that the paging system activating the tsunami alert signal would be maintained and operational until September 2021 when it will be progressively disconnected from the sirens – which will remain operational for fire alerts.
The TCDC estimates that it would cost between $5 million and $11 million to replace the tsunami sirens with a compliant network. The current sirens can not be retrofitted to comply with the national standards.
The current warning sirens reach fewer than 43 per cent of the Coromandel's population. Sirens are not considered a reliable alerting tool because wind, location, and double-glazing on windows can affect audibility.
Current alerting systems in place
The TCDC is confident the following alerting systems already in place are more effective than sirens in the event of a tsunami threat:
- National Emergency Mobile Alert (EMA) - this is the alert you get on your cell phone. For information on capable phones and frequently asked questions see Emergency Mobile Alert
- Red Cross Hazards app and GeoNet app – download from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store
- Ongoing and improved upgrade of the cellular and broadband fibre networks through the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) project and Ultra Fast Broadband rollout
- Growing use of digital social media platforms
- Radio and television coverage
- WHISPIR - a platform that provides alerts to more remote locations with limited cell coverage, rolling out later this year
- Community Response Planning where communities are working together to prepare for emergencies in their own neighbourhood. To find out about your community plan see Emergency Management Unit page on the TCDC website
- Increased public education and communication.
Remember natural warning signs
It’s also very important to recognise the natural warning signs of a tsunami; if you are near the shore and experience any of the following, take action. Do not wait for official warnings.
- Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand, or a long earthquake that lasts more than a minute (Long or Strong, Get Gone)
- See a sudden rise or fall in sea level
- Hear loud or unusual noises from the sea.
Want to attend the Tsunami Public Forum in Whitianga?
For full details of the Thames Coromandel District Council Tsunami Alert Public Forum in Whitianga please click on the related link below.