Firstly our hearts go out to those that lost their lives in the earthquake and devasting tsunami that hit Samoa earlier this morning. May your souls surf the spiritual seas of the afterlife. Kia Kaha
I was awoken by a phone call from my old man around 8.30am, yeah yeah without daylight savings that is more like 7.30 am so no sloth jokes, I’m still adjusting LOL. Obviously I was straight out of bed and turning the idiot box on. It is a weird feeling being warned something bad is about to happen. A quick plan was made, Ange and the kids to the high ground of Dads property and me to the hill behind the township to try capture some images. I was there early and set up the tripod and watched as a steady trickle of cars and bodies made their way to safety high above the brine. Radios were blaring, well mine was until I was told to turn it down so someone nearby could hear the Met Service announcements and warnings more clearly, I had The Edge cranking over abused pop hits with the odd announcement.
So much for our Tsunami warning siren, it went for about 25seconds and sounded more like a quick fire siren, I reckon the sound of the siren for a Tsunami warning should be totally different to the existing one. If it was at night I would have gone back to sleep and disregarded it as a car accident or similar. Different sound please Civil Service Emergency people. No-Brainer!
Those around me must have thought I was a travelling McGyver swiss-army knife. I was getting text updates via cellphone, I had water and a bowl for a thirsty dog, even a change of clothes for a toddler who had wet herself. The fact I hardly ever clean out my wagon is the only reason I was able to offer any of these titbits. If anyone had asked for 12 million grains of sand and melted surfboard wax I could’ve been of assitance too. Behind me a bunch of carefree teens had set up their mobile boom box and were doing funnels (skulling through a plastic hose and funnel) and swearing lots and actually having a mini party of sorts. It was 10.30am. The future of NZ is safe in their hands.
Through my lense I soon saw a lone figure stroke out across the bay towards the bar, it didn’t take much guessing to realise it was multiple national title holder and all round extrovert Lynden Kennings shunning all warnings and personal safety. Those around me were in disbelief (well those that dont know Lynden were), random crew were soon texting and calling friends to tell them some mad surfer was heading out to try ride ‘The Wave’.
When you are perched elevated above Whangamata you soon realise how vunerable the famous east coast seaside town is. The majority of the township would sustain major damage if a sizeable wave did ever hit it. While the goal of the vain and rich is to own beachfront property it comes with its downsides. The ‘golden circle’ (a local real estate term commonly used for the higher end price range and close to the beach vacinity properties) is always going to be wrought with the threat of a tsunami’s devastation. While there was plenty of available time to make your way to safe ground from the Samoan earthquake tsunami threat, a closer range occurance would undoubtably catch many unlucky people unawares. Especially if it occurs at night, The feeble siren just wouldn’t cut the mustard in my opinion, especially if you mistook it for an accident fire siren.
And for all you muppets that did enter the water and thought you would ride ‘The Wave’, remember tsunami waves dont break like normal waves, it is more of a fast moving surge. Do really want to ride a surge that is likely to drag you 100metres inland, smash you into buildings, lamposts, floating cars and fast moving heavy debris. There are very few deaths at waves like Teahuppo, the body count from one tsunami wave in a low lying area is huge. Is it worth it?
At 11 o’clock the warning was lifted, no damage thankfully, although parts of me selfishly wanted to witness such a rare event and document it with my camera. Human nature I guess…