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Researchers need help to improve tsunami evacuation models

17 months ago by Kate Boersen


Seven Napier communities are invited to make tsunami evacuations easier, safer and quicker in a series of workshops next month. 

The workshops will help researchers and scientists improve their computer-based tsunami evacuation models of Westshore, Ahuriri, Pandora, Napier South, Maraenui, Te Awa and Marewa.

The models, developed by scientists from GNS Science, simulate the movement of people who have self-evacuated on foot, following a long or strong earthquake that causes a large tsunami.

Dr William Power, a tsunami modeller at GNS Science, said the models showed where congestion might occur and how long it would take people to evacuate if they left immediately following a long or strong earthquake. 

“The models are quite simple at this stage of the research and to improve them we need to add information that only locals know, and that’s where these workshops come in,” Dr Power said.  

The two workshops will be held on Tuesday, 5 March, the first from 12.30pm to 2pm at the Napier Sailing Club and the second from 6.30pm to 8pm at McLean Park in the Chapman Pavilion Pettigrew Lounge 1. 

Participants will be asked to help identify routes that have been modelled but are not possible in real life, as well as routes that are possible in real life but have not been modelled. 

“This information is really valuable as it means we can provide more realistic models that Civil Defence Emergency Management can later use for planning purposes,” said Dr Power.

Participants will also be asked to identify ways to make tsunami evacuations easier, safer and quicker. 

East Coast LAB project leader Kate Boersen also encouraged people to practise their tsunami evacuation routes as part of tsunami hīkoi week, which runs from 11 to 17 March.

“Tsunami hīkoi week is great chance for people to familiarise themselves with the evacuation route they’re planning to take and identify and potential obstacles or hazards along the way,” Ms Boersen said.

“Walking the route you would take in an actual event is one of the best ways to prepare for a tsunami, as well as learning the natural warning signs of a tsunami: a long or strong earthquake.”

Emergency managers from the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will be available during the workshops to answer questions about tsunami preparedness and planning.

This research is part of a two-year project called ‘Quicker Safer Tsunami Evacuations’ funded by the Natural Hazard Research Platform.

It involves researchers and scientists from GNS Science, Massey University, East Coast LAB (Life at the Boundary) and the University of Canterbury.

Workshop 1: Tuesday 5th March from 12.30pm to 2.00pm at Napier Sailing Club, 63 West Quay. Ahuriri, Napier

Workshop 2: Tuesday 5th March from 6.30pm to 8.00pm at Chapman Pavilion Pettigrew Lounge 1, McLean Park