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Are we ready?

By Dorothy Preece.

Are we prepared to face natural disasters and emergencies on the Coromandel East Coast? This was the question posed by committee member David Yeomans, to the members of Grey Power Mercury Bay at its recent luncheon at the Mercury Bay Club.

Mr Yeomans was the keynote speaker for the day. He said people need to assess their own situation to be properly prepared when the need to evacuate should arise. “There are many things to think about, and we all need to have a plan, know where we will evacuate to, have a grab-bag packed with essentials and medication, a cage for the pets, a battery radio…” Mr Yeomans said. He reminded his audience that some people had been left with nothing after recent weather events in New Zealand. Mr Yeomans provided personal check lists that include personal papers such as birth certificates and passports, and a checklist for pets that includes a photograph in case the animal gets lost.

“We can’t rely on the Fire Brigade or the local Council,” Mr Yeomans said. “We are all on our own when the time comes.”

Mr Yeomans has been a vocal advocate for the installation of dedicated All Hazards /tsunami sirens since 2021 when Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) announced that their fire sirens could no longer be used as tsunami warnings. Since then, many local Councils/authorities around New Zealand have installed stand-alone, dedicated tsunami sirens, but so far Thames Coromandel District Council has not committed to re-installing them. “Council says these sirens would be too costly for our area, but they have not shared any clear costings with us. The point is, we cannot rely on any outside help. We all need to ask ourselves, “Am I ready?

“We are calling on Mayor Len Salt to act on his electoral promise to form a working group to reinstate our hazard safety system,” Mr Yeomans said. He also asked for a show of hands to the question, “Do you want All Hazards/ tsunami sirens back on the Peninsula?” The response was unanimous.

Statement prepared by Garry Towler re the status of the progress on Whispir by TCDC, their proposed alternative to sirens.

Whispir, as a public alerting platform has been up and running across the Coromandel for a number of years now, it is known as the EMA or Emergency Mobile Alert. This is both a national and regional alerting tool and one TCDC activated during Cyclone Gabrielle, connecting with over 95% of cell phone users.

TCDC has a parallel project using the Whispir platform called ‘TCDC Alerts’, this is a free subscription service using the same cellular connectivity as the EMA. TCDC wanted to expand the service to include access to landlines and voice messaging, this is where the delays have occurred.

While subscribing to TCDC Alerts was easy and straight forward for the majority of users who took part in testing, it was not compatible and easy to use for others due to the type of or brand of device they were using.TCDC has spent many months trying to improve this glitch in the process and while progress has been made our Emergency Management staff are not satisfied that the ‘user friendly’ threshold that has been set to fully launch the service has still not been met.

Work will continue on ‘TCDC Alerts’ and everyone is assured the Coromandel is well connected with the national EMA.

Garry Towler

Thames Coromandel District Council.

District Manager,

Emergency Management.

This statement appeared in Issue 1070, 5 September as a Letter to the Editor.

Caption: An example of the All-Hazards sirens used in other areas.


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