Tsunami Blue Lines Project adopted in the United States

11 March 2016

Wellington's award winning Tsunami Blue Lines Project has been adopted by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. The project is one of the first of its kind in the U.S, inspired by a recent program developed in New Zealand by the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO).

Blue lines on Island Bay streets show tsunami-safe zones

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The project was awarded by The International Association for Emergency Managers winning both its Global and Oceania Public Awareness categories in its annual awards.

“This is proof that our ongoing work in the resilience area is being increasingly recognised on the international stage,” says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. “Wellington is proud to be a world leader in resilience.

“With Neighbours Day approaching we can continue to work locally to build a more resilient community on the ground.”

The Blue Lines Project which aims to raise community awareness on how to evacuate from an approaching tsunami was developed by the Island Bay community and facilitated by WREMO's Community Resilience Manager, Dan Neely and staff from GNS Science.

Bruce Pepperell, Manager of the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, says the blue lines concept has generated positive interest from abroad including from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the US, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the Cabinet Office for Disaster Management in Japan.

He says the blue lines act as a catalyst or ongoing reminder to encourage people to plan their evacuation routes before they need to use them. "It's a simple, cheap and long-lasting means of keeping people aware of the tsunami danger and of the need to be prepared for emergency."

Auckland is also adopting the system and WREMO are speaking with NZTA about a national set of guidelines.  

In 2014 Wellington was recognised for its resilience initiatives by the Rockefeller Foundation through Wellington’s acceptance into 100 Resilient Cities. 100RC helps cities around the world become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges through funding and increased access to expertise and resources here and overseas. 

Chief Resilience Officer Mike Mendonca says Wellington has a comprehensive set of initiatives. 

“We are the first New Zealand Council to complete earthquake-prone assessment of all commercial pre-1976 buildings,” says Mike. “We are home to the International Centre of Excellence for Community Resilience, creator of the Tsunami Blue Lines Project, It’s Our Fault research programme and Neighbours Day Aotearoa because it takes a community to build resilience.”

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