Sunday, 16 December 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Emergency Alert System to be tested this weekend

A nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system will be happening this weekend on Sunday 25 November between 6:00pm and 7:00pm.

The alert is a vital way to keep our communities safe in an emergency and it’s particularly important in the Coromandel given our diverse terrain.

Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, says annual tests of the system will help to ensure that it is working effectively, while helping to familiarise the public with what to expect and how it works.

“By running this test and asking people to be aware of the alerts, we are able to test our systems, the cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert,” says Mrs Stuart-Black. “This is just a test, but when emergencies happen, the Emergency Mobile Alert system will be a vital channel to help keep our communities safe.

“Not all phones are currently capable of receiving the alerts, so we need people to look after each other - if you receive an alert, tell your neighbours, your whanau and your colleagues," she says.

The system, which was launched last year with the first nationwide test alert, has been well received, with around three in four New Zealanders expressing confidence in the system. “The system brings some real benefits - we can geographically target areas, you don’t need to download an app, we don’t need your personal details and it doesn’t get affected by network congestion," says Mrs Stuart-Black.

Garry Towler, the Coromandel Peninsula’s Civil Defence Controller says they are aware that quite a number of people in the Coromandel didn’t receive the alert last year. “We are interested to get feedback in order evaluate the Emergency Mobile Alert system’s effectiveness, especially as we have such diverse terrain over the Peninsula.”

“We are in for a busy summer with a mixed weather forecast. Now is a good time to check your resources at home, in your car and at the bach should we find ourselves isolated like we did in January this year. Ensure you are able to take care of yourself, family and friends for a few days until we can get to you,” says Mr Towler.

The test alert message will contain a link to the Civil Defence website, where recipients will be able to fill in a survey that will help to inform further improvements to the system.

It is expected that around half of all phones will be able to receive alerts, compared to around one-third when the system was launched at this time last year. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert here.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.