The first purpose-built tsunami high ground in the Southern Hemisphere is going to be officially opened on Saturday, April 7 from 3.30pm at Gordon Spratt Reserve.
The event is being promoted as a community evacuation rehearsal for Papamoa residents, says the city council emergency and safety manager Paul Baunton.
“Over the past six years, Tauranga City Council has been working on ways to keep our community safe in the event of a tsunami. We have worked with natural hazard experts and emergency planners to gather an unprecedented amount of knowledge, so that we could confidently identify safe zones and locations."
The purpose of the event is to encourage everyone to practice their evacuation plans, including making sure people have an emergency grab bag packed and ready to go, says Paul.
“This event will assist people to prepare for a tsunami evacuation and save lives.
“Residents along the coastline now have a network of tsunami evacuation routes, safe locations and a suite of clearly marked evacuation maps and signs. However, none of this matters if people do not know where to go, or how and when to use this network.”
Papamoa is leading off in what will become an annual citywide event to highlight the importance of practicing evacuation plans.
“We need to start in one part of the city first, and over the next two to three years increase the level of participation to all tsunami at-risk communities,” says Paul.
Everyone in Papamoa is encouraged to walk or cycle along the evacuation routes to attend a fun and informative event to open the Gordon Spratt high ground, at Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa.
People with disabilities or people who have family and friends with disabilities will find the rehearsal a great way to test your personal evacuation plans.
The inaugural Never Happens? Happens community event is on Saturday, April 7 from 3.30pm to 7pm.
There will be music and entertainment along the routes, as well as emergency services information and displays, sports activities, a live-music stage, food vendors and prizes at the event.
The pile of sand was originally expected to cost $1,034,000, but the council was faced with cost overruns because the land underneath the Gordon Spratt reserve is expected to liquefy in the event of a major earthquake.
In December 2015 Tauranga City Councillors were asked to approve an extra $734,000 for the pile of sand.
The reason behind the extra costs relates to ground conditions, which is suffering from greater-than-expected liquefaction and lateral spread issues.
The Gordon Spratt Reserve Vertical Evacuation Structure was originally expected to cost $566,000, but the ‘geotechnical constraints' were identified during the design and tender phase of the project.
The same ground conditions were encountered during the NZ Transport Agency's construction of the Tauranga Eastern Link. Papamoa East is a layer of sand over a former swamp, and liquefaction would likely be a major problem in a decent-sized earthquake.
Any sufficiently large pile of dirt, such as a 6-7 metre VES platform, would risk sinking into the ground unless ground water is squeezed out from underneath first.
The same ground conditions and associated increased costs are likely to be found at the VES localities planned for Wairakei East ($390,000) and Wairakei West ($764,000).