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Civil Defence in Hawke’s Bay reassures public it has resolved website issues

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Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has worked with urgency to resolve issues which led to its website crashing during the red zone evacuation on Friday.

The National Emergency Management Agency, the official agency for providing New Zealand tsunami advisories and warnings issued a beach and marine threat for Hawke's Bay after Friday’s morning’s third large earthquake at 8.28am, an 8.1 earthquake near the Kermadec Islands.

Everyone in the tsunami red zone was advised to evacuate to higher ground.

More than 32,000 people tried to access the website within several hours, which normally has 150 visitors a day. This led to slow loading times or complete failure to load the website.

Group Controller Ian Macdonald says the interactive maps are now working, and he recommends people check in and find out if they are in a tsunami evacuation zone using this link https://www.hbemergency.govt.nz/hazards/tsunami/.

“If you are in a tsunami evacuation zone, then you should plan and practice self evacuation for yourself and your family,” he says.

Mr Macdonald says investigations have shown that the web server was under-resourced to handle such a large amount of traffic, but this has been sorted.

“The web server capacity has now been vastly improved by adding additional resources to the platform. Measures have also been introduced to prevent this from happening again.  We will be stress testing the actual website shortly to ensure these have worked.”

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will be running an education campaign over the next few months reminding people about the different zones.

Mr Macdonald is also apologising to people who were confused by a Facebook message early in the morning for the first 2:27am quake initially advising there was unlikely to be a tsunami threat to Hawke’s Bay.  This post was removed within 10 minutes once it was realised it had gone up.

“We’ve tightened our processes, but as I’m sure the public can understand the information we get in these fast moving situations can and does often change quickly.”

He says the nature of tsunami risk assessment is time consuming and uncertain, so it’s vital people should take precautionary action.

“The golden rule applies – if people feel a long or strong  earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or lasts longer than a minute, they should move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

“If it’s long or strong get gone. People need to make their own decision to self evacuate – do not wait to read about it on social media – if you live in an evacuation zone and feel a long strong earthquake you need to move quickly,” he says.

14 July 2021

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