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Schools out as cyclone safety shelters

Thursday July 14, 2016 Written by Published in Local

EMERGENCY Management Cook Islands (EMCI) director Charles Carlson said the decision to abandon the system of using schools as shelters follows the discovery that it causes too much disruption to school students.


“In the past we tended to use schools and government properties (as cyclone shelters) but now we want to stay away from the schools because one of the lessons learnt back in 2010 when Aitutaki was hit by Cyclone Pat, was that we were trying to get the children back to their schools but there were people living in the buildings,” Carlson said.

In the meantime, he said EMCI was still working on putting together an evacuation plan and identifying buildings that were suitable to be used as safety shelters.

“The ideal situation is to identify community buildings that can be be used as safety shelters and then we can perhaps certify them. If not, then we can probably get them retrofitted.

“So what we are doing is identifying what community buildings might be suitable and getting a building inspector to go around and verify or certify them so we can actually make sure that they are suitable and fit to be called safety shelters.”

Carlson said outer islands were in most need of safety shelters since they are more vulnerable in the event of cyclones.

“We do not have purpose-built safety shelters. The people on the outer islands are the ones that require shelter centres.