Hohepa passes the tsunami test

By Victoria White

1 comment
Hohepa Hawke's Bay general manager Andy White.
Hohepa Hawke's Bay general manager Andy White.

Staff at Hopeha Homes bundled about 60 residents into vans, and evacuated from their beachfront location on Friday morning in just 10 minutes as they responded to the tsunami threat.

Although the tsunami advisory sent out following Friday morning's 7.1 magnitude earthquake was later cancelled, Hohepa Hawke's Bay general manager Andy White said the evacuation was great practice.

Hohepa provides services for people with intellectual disabilities, based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner.

On Friday morning, Mr White was alerted to the tsunami warning just after 6am. He rang the Clive site where residents were sound asleep, supervised by about 10 staff who had been working through the night, and told them to evacuate.

Mr White said if there was any reason for concern, "we evacuate, full stop", as it was wiser to begin moving straight away.

"They swung into action," he said. Aside from "a few stragglers" staff woke residents, bundled them into vans, and began transporting them to the arranged assembly point - in only 10 minutes.

While people arrived at the Hohepa School in Poraiti dressed in pyjamas, or covered in blankets, Mr White said they were all very calm.

"I was just amazed at how calm and understanding they were," he said, adding that although some residents would usually get "fairly out of kilter" with a rushed evacuation, they handled it very well.

While the alert was lifted soon after they arrived, Mr White said it had been good to check their systems worked.

"It was real, we reacted with absolutely no warning," he said.

"While some might feel it was an overreaction, for us it was a chance to really test ourselves."

The organisation ran drills, but Mr White said, "this was the first time we'd done one out of hours, with night staff only".

"The really satisfying part was to find they did that so well."

Going forward, there were little things they wanted to improve, around communications and the on-site siren. Overall, however, Mr White said he was very proud of how staff and residents had handled the situation.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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