18 Nov 2016

Residents living in coastal areas of Christchurch are being urged to have an evacuation plan in place in case the earthquakes hitting the South Island trigger a tsunami.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the high level of seismic activity being experienced means there is a heightened risk of tsunamis and people should be prepared to evacuate from coastal areas.

“The biggest risk to coastal Christchurch and Banks Peninsula comes from a distant source tsunami triggered by an earthquake a long distance away, but there is a small risk of a tsunami being generated from a very large earthquake in New Zealand and we need to be prepared for that eventuality because we won’t have much warning,’’ Mayor Dalziel said.

“If you are living in a coastal area you need to go online and check if your property is in an evacuation area.’’

Maps showing the evacuation areas can be found at www.ccc.govt.nz/tsunami.

Mayor Dalziel said it was important people took time now to talk to their family and neighbours about how they would evacuate in the event of a tsunami.

“People need to have an evacuation plan. Get together with your neighbours and come up with a plan for how you would alert each other and help each other to get out of the area,’’ Mayor Dalziel said.

If the city was hit by a large earthquake that was strong enough to make it difficult to stand or to walk in a straight line, or by a rolling earthquake that lasted for more than a minute, people along the coast should not wait for the tsunami sirens to sound before getting out of the area. They should immediately head for higher ground, preferably going inland until they are outside the evacuation zone.’’

People who could not stay with friends or family would be looked after at Civil Defence centres but it would take at least a couple of hours to set those up. Public announcements would be made about the location of the centres.

Mayor Dalziel said as part of their evacuation planning(external link), people should ensure they have an emergency kit and getaway bag ready.

“We have to plan for the worst, while hoping for the best, and take steps to ensure that we can look after ourselves and each other.’’