The tsunami text warning system in the Bay of Plenty is being urgently reviewed by the government following an “unacceptable level of confusion” that occurred with the inconsistent way the messages were applied following Kaikoura 7.8 quake.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller says the government has signaled the text messaging system has to be urgently reviewed and a more robust process of chain of command established.
“This review of the text alert system is critical, but we must not rely on texts alone to alert our seaside communities.
“From Mount Beach to Papamoa East, we need to have a siren based alert system to wake our communities to the threat as determined by Civil Defence.
“This is the accountability of local government, in this case Tauranga City Council, but the Government can assist with advice on siren specification as required.”
Todd is going to continue pushing the Government for a better text alert system, and Tauranga City Council for a quick resolution to the siren issue.
“I also intend to discuss with Tauranga City Council the options to improve ease of access for walkers to get out of the tsunami risk.
“The earthquake mounds are a great new addition, but too many families tried to walk the streets to get out, and found their walkway impeded by new developments or temporary barriers.”
Todd's thanking the significant number of people who have emailed and Facebooked him with their concerns ranging from Civil Defence text alert failure to the lack of alternative notification systems like sirens and the challenge of easy walking egress to higher ground.
The changing nature of the warnings and messages is being attributed to the first detection of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake inland, which generally doesn't trigger a tsunami.
What was unknown at the time was that the earthquake was so severe it ran along various faults and into the sea, says Todd.
“Once this was discovered Civil Defence immediately triggered various tsunami warnings, which then are actioned (or not) by the local regional civil defence agencies.
“I will keep on these issues and report back as progress occurs."