Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Opinion: Tsunami sirens not the whole answer but would help

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Tsunami sirens would help residents living at Papamoa and Mount Maunganui but they aren't necessarily the silver bullet. Photo/file
Tsunami sirens would help residents living at Papamoa and Mount Maunganui but they aren't necessarily the silver bullet. Photo/file

I'm a pretty heavy sleeper. I've slept through a volunteer fire brigade siren going off no more than 20m away and last night I slept through the earthquake which rattled the country.

Just after midnight yesterday my husband woke me up to tell me about the earthquake.

He had woken to the sound of the blinds tapping against the window and the rolling of the bed as the earthquake hit. A quick check on the Geonet website confirmed it was a big one - worth waking me up for, he said.

No more than 15 minutes later we were back asleep after deciding we were not in harms way.

It turns out I'm not the only one who slept through the shake.

Yesterday residents throughout the Bay voiced concern that they knew nothing of the earthquake, or the evacuation alert issued by Civil Defence two hours later, until they woke in the morning.

Papamoa resident Renee Ball felt so strongly about it that she started a Facebook page and an online petition calling for tsunami alert sirens - she already had almost 2000 signatures by 6pm last night.

I agree sirens are needed. They may still not be enough to wake everyone up but they will do more than the quiet buzz of a text message.

And what about the elderly or those who don't have smart phones? As it stands they have to rely on others to let them know.

I know sirens are not the whole answer, but they would help.

Opponents of tsunami sirens say they are unlikely to be activated in time to make any difference - but surely if Civil Defence has decided the threat is real enough to issue an evacuation alert the sirens could be activated at the same time.

Yes, there is a degree of personal responsibility needed. People do need to judge the size of the earthquake themselves and make a call as to whether there is a real danger or not in the first instance rather than wait for a siren or an alert.

But at least a siren will mean people are awake to make that decision.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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