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Modelling inundation to respond to tsunami threats: First training for the Pacific Islands takes place on the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Samoa tsunami

07 October 2019

Nadi, Fiji, 30 September 2019 – The first training of the Tsunami Evacuation Maps, Plans and Procedures Programme (TEMPP 1), co-sponsored by the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) Project of the Pacific Community (SPC) and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), took place on 30 September - 4 October 2019 in Nadi, Fiji.

The TEMMP 1: Inundation Modelling and Mapping training was the first of five trainings targeting Seismologists, Meteorologists, GIS specialists, Disaster Management Operators from National Tsunami Warning Centers, Seismological, Meteorological and Geohazard Departments and National Disaster Management Offices, which will culminate in community drills for the participating countries. The TEMPP Programme responds to the recommendations of the Seventh Meeting of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories Regional Working Group on Tsunami Warning and Mitigation that was held in Noumea, New Caledonia in March 2019 and it is a direct contribution to the Samoa Pathway.

The training participants were nominated by Tsunami National Contacts in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga and Samoa.

The TEMPP Programme is a standardized course and process for the production of reliable and practical community-level tsunami evacuation maps, and follows IOC Manuals and Guide 82, Preparing for Community Tsunami Evacuations: from inundation to evacuation maps, response plans and exercises. Upon completion of the Programme, countries should have sufficient knowledge and capability to replicate the process in other tsunami-prone communities. The TEMPP process also helps communities become UNESCO IOC Tsunami Ready. 

The TEMPP 1 was facilitated by:

  • Laura Kong, Director, International Tsunami Information Centre of Honolulu, Hawaii;
  • Chris Moore, Senior Oceanographer, NOAA Centre for Tsunami Research, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA);
  • Bill Fry, Seismologist, New Zealand’s GNS Science; and
  • Herve Damlamian, Senior Oceanographer, Geoscience Division of the SPC.

The training identified the following important priorities and critical next steps:

  1. Identification of maximum credible tsunami sources by scientific experts for the New Hebrides, South Solomon, New Britain and New Guinea Trenches;
  2. Collection of high-resolution bathymetric and topographic data and creation of the Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs) required to conduct hazard assessment studies using inundation modeling for Pacific Island communities at-risk to tsunami; and
  3. Training on community evacuation planning, including the development t of evacuation maps, response plans, and evacuation exercises.

The Training provided also an opportunity to commemorate the 2009 Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga Tsunami, which on 29 September killed 149 in the independent country of Samoa, 34 in American Samoa, and nine people in Tonga, and caused damage for more than $150 million in Samoa alone.

The regular training of communities living in tsunami hazard zones is essential to increasing their preparedness to natural disasters. Partnering with regional and local authorities such as the Pacific Community is key to the sustainability of the whole Programme.
 

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For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Aliaga, Tsunami Programme, IOC-UNESCO

b.aliaga@unesco.org