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Meetings told tsunami lines help save lives

May 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

TWO COMMUNITY meetings have been held in Wellington’s southern suburbs to discuss the introduction of blue road lines warning how far inland a tsunami could reach.

The first blue tsunami line meetings were held at Owhiro Bay and Houghton Valley Schools, similar to those trialed in Island Bay.

The plan involves painting a blue line across roads in Owhiro Bay and Houghton Bay marking the furthest distance a tsunami could reach, in all directions, in the worst-case scenario.

Graham Leonard, a natural hazards scientist from GNS Science, explained what tsunami are, and the modelling of evacuation zones.

“Tsunami are known for their capacity to violently flood coastlines, they can devastate property, cause property damage, give injuries, loss of life,” he said.

Senior adviser in emergency preparedness from the Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO), Dan Neely, emphasised the importance of understanding that the blue line project does not introduce any new risks.

“The risk is still the same. We’re not introducing a risk with this project. We’re highlighting a risk,” he said.

Members of the public attended both meetings. Jan Sawada, from Owhiro Bay, was glad to be involved.

“It’s good to take responsibility, just to connect with the community, and see if there’s a way that we can support each other or work together if necessary, if something happens.”

The principal of Houghton Valley School, Barry Schon, was keen to dispel any worries that the school was within the tsunami line.

“The school’s above the tsunami line, well above it; our concern would more have something to do with what state the fields would be in in an earthquake.”

The school field used to be a landfill, and so his concern was more about what state it might be in after an earthquake and tsunami.

“That’s why I’d be keen to hear about what happens to dumps. I imagine they’d get a bit of liquefaction possibly.”

The project was initially piloted in Island Bay in 2011, weeks before the Christchurch earthquake and Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Before the Japanese events, people said the lines were too high; afterwards, the same people asked if they were high enough.

The Wellington scheme is planned to be rolled out in suburbs around the city.

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