Editorials 2 March 2010

The NZ Herald reviews the alerts:

has done better this time. On Sunday morning, the organisation did not seem asleep on the job, as it did on the morning of the Samoan earthquake last year.

This time, the organisation could have been quicker to issue a tsunami alert on Saturday night. An hour after Chile was shaken by the magnitude 8.8 earthquake, Civil Defence was discounting the risk of tidal waves, but by midnight it was warning otherwise.

From sensors in the sea we learn the magnitude of a wave and the projected direction and distance it will travel. These are low and long volumes of water and their modest height is no indication of their destructive potential. Doubtless their coastal impact, or lack of it, depends partly on the contours of the seabed and shore that they strike, but surely more could be predicted from mid-ocean.

Why, for example, did the Chilean tsunami arrive with more force on the coast of Japan, twice as far from the epicentre as New Zealand? Plainly nowhere around the vast Pacific is immune to the wash from offshore earthquakes on its fiery perimeter.

A lot of people mistake the size of a tsunami for not being destructive. Anything that travels at 800 km/hr can be lethal – even if only 50 cm tall.

The Dom Post discusses respect for the law:

However, the growth in the number of attacks on must be checked. In 2000, some 216 officers were attacked in the line of duty. Last year the number was 412.

When officers such as Mr Connolly attend a domestic dispute, respond to an emergency call, or step in to break up a fight, they are acting on behalf of the community. If the job becomes too dangerous, honourable, conscientious individuals will decide it is not worth the risk.

The community has to find some way to instil in the young a greater respect for the law and those who enforce it. Otherwise we will all be worse off. As Mr O’Connor has said: “An assault on police officers is more than an assault on the individual, it’s an assault on the security of society.” Parents of the lawless should bear that in mind.

And The Press also talks tsunamis:

After a powerful earthquake struck near Samoa in late September last year, and raised fears that a tsunami might hit coastal regions of New Zealand, the response of Civil Defence authorities was roundly criticised. A subsequent report found that the Ministry of Civil Defence had underperformed, especially with respect to its public information management responsibilities.

This report, and the public criticism, appear to have had a salutary effect, as shown by the far more efficient Civil Defence response during the weekend to the threat of a tsunami after the devastating Chilean earthquake. But this improved performance does not mean that there are no lessons to be learned from the latest tsunami scare.

I agree Civil Defence had much better communications this time.

And the ODT also talks tsunamis:

National civil defence alerted media, and by 7am Radio New Zealand National, as one example, was broadcasting nationwide alerts and warnings, and newspapers, such as the Otago Daily Times, had posted information on their websites.

The coordination between authorities and media outlets was much improved on that of a mere five months ago in the aftermath of the Samoan earthquake and the subsequent devastating tsunami.

So all around the consensus is an improved response.

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