Whangārei District Council staff evacuation went well - Forlong

6:39 pm on 5 March 2021

About 500 people evacuated to Whangārei Primary School today, among them were about 100 Whangārei District Council staff and central city workers.

Whangārei Primary School.

Whangārei Primary School. Photo: Google Maps

WDC staff evacuated about 9am, going up to their designated Whangārei Primary School evacuation point from about 9.20am and checking at the school gates with the Covid tracer app.

About 500 people had converged on the evacuation site, many had been able to go from there to family or friends during the four hours of the evacuation period.

Rob Forlong, Whangārei District Council (WDC) chief executive, said the four hours at the evacuation site had gone well.

Whangārei central city staff including from local pharmacies, Pak N Save and White Cross were among the evacuees at Whangārei Primary.

Toilets for the 500 people were made available at the school and nearby Salvation Army.

Nearby Regent New World owner Eric Rush donated a pallet of water to evacuees.

The school also provided Kids Can healthy snacks. The Salvation Army provided chicken and lettuce sandwiches and chocolate squares.

Forlong said the council's ongoing tsunami evacuation drills had borne fruit today with things going well.

He said those in Whangārei central city deserved praise for how well they had evacuated.

There had been a steady stream of evacuees driving north out of the central city past the school for the first 1.5 hours after council staff arrived at the school about 9.20am, he said.

"It was like rush hour."

It was of concern however, to see some cars driving south past the school towards the central city during this time, he said.

There had been a lot of people walking out of town too.

When asked whether he was relieved Whangārei City had avoided with potential tsunami damage Forlong replied "Oh shit yeah."

The council's hub at Forum North, plus its Walton Plaza building is in a tsunami evacuation zone.

The new Hundertwasser building is also in this zone, along with all Town Basin buildings.

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