A seaside community rallied together yesterday, after they were shaken awake by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Haumoana, Clifton and Te Awanga residents had a sleepless night after a tsunami warning was issued in the early hours of Monday morning, with many of them self-evacuating to the Haumoana School Hall.

Cape Coast civil defence co-ordinator Jane Grant said around 300 people spent the night at the school - the area's Civil Defence Emergency Centre.

"We have an amazing community out here, who mobilised really well," she said. "We're rapt with the community response, it's really hard for people to be woken up at that time."

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Residents were so prepared, they had already begun arriving at the school by the time Ms Grant arrived.

Sleepy-eyed residents - some still in pyjamas - gathered in the hall, while others parked on the nearby field in their supply-packed campervans. A lot of people chose to spend the night in their cars with their pets, as animals were not allowed on site.

Ms Grant said given the circumstances, the mood in the hall overnight had been quite calm. As residents waited for the warning to be lifted, many helped make hot beverages, and "kept things ticking over".

"It's an uneasy feeling to leave [your house] and lock the door on your whole life," she said. "And it's an uneasy feeling when you get up to the school, and think is it going to be there when I get home, can I get home?"

Haumoana residents Colin and Judy Barnes were among those who congregated at the school.

Mr Barnes said they had a "grab bag" at the ready.

"We were there until daybreak before we got the word that we could go home, but were advised to be prepared to be evacuated again."

Beachfront Te Awanga resident Roark Watson had also quickly gathered some belongings and evacuated.

Although Mr Watson did not think a tsunami would hit, "when you've got the siren, and alert, and full on notice to evacuate you've got to go with it".

When the tsunami warning was downgraded, he was able to return home just after 6am yesterday.

Haumoana residents had been able to leave slightly earlier, as their homes were higher than those in Te Awanga.

By mid-morning, everything was getting back to normal in the coastal town.

Haumoana School principal Jane Gallen said by the time staff arrived at the school yesterday morning, its overnight visitors had left.

There were a few absences of students who had evacuated, and been awake all night.

Stores at Haumoana's beachfront complex were back in business, with Haumoana Four Square one of the first to open their doors.

Despite their location, owners Marie and Michael Percy said they had decided to open when the tsunami warning was downgraded.

The quake had not been enough to shake stock from their shelves, as Ms Percy found when she drove to the store during the night to gather supplies for those in the school hall.