IHCantabria is implementing a project in Chipiona (Cádiz) to turn it into a pilot municipality for the international TsunamiReady program
The Tsunami team of the Institute of Environmental Hydraulics of the Universidad de Cantabria (IHCantabria), with the institutional support of UNESCO, is coordinating a preparedness plan for these giant waves in the town of Chipiona, in order to propose the town of Chipiona as a pilot municipality for demonstrating tsunami preparedness in Spain and Europe, as part of the international accreditation program called TsunamiReady.
This program arises from the difficulties of implementing the basic guideline of tsunami regulation from the highest levels of the national government to the municipalities, and aims to prepare communities and local authorities through communication, evacuation exercises, training and information.
For accreditation as a municipality, TsunamiReady requires compliance with 12 indicators within mitigation, preparedness and response measures. “This would allow Chipiona to be an example for other Spanish municipalities, and at the same time begin to unblock from the base, the Plan established in the Tsunami Directive currently stagnant in higher stays,” as explained Mauricio Gonzalez Rodriguez, head of the Research Group of Engineering and Management of the Coast of IHCantabria and professor in the Department of Science and Techniques of Water and Environment of the UC.
IHCantabria has research capacity, technical capacity and experience in different parts of the world, to support and carry out the preparation of Chipiona for tsunamis, collaborating with numerical modeling, development of cartographic products and social aspects.
High risk area
At this moment IHCantabria has already elaborated tsunami flood maps to define the impact areas in the municipality and is elaborating evacuation maps. For its part, the Chipiona City Council will install signs on evacuation routes in the coming months and will implement a municipal emergency operational plan to include the risk of Tsunami. Participatory workshops will also be held at the institutional and community levels for sustained public education and public evacuation exercises.
The town of Chipiona is exposed to the impact of large tsunami events, as happened during the Lisbon tsunami of 1755, being considered a high-risk area, as demonstrated in the European project TRANSFER. “If a tsunami like the one in 2004 were to occur in Indonesia or Japan, it would be an equal or greater tragedy given the number of people in the summer, the occupation on the coast, etc.”, underlined Professor González.
In November 2015 the Royal Decree 1053/2015 of the basic guideline for planning civil protection against the risk of tsunamis was approved, which establishes the minimum requirements of the strategy for the management of the risk of tsunamis in Spain. Given that this law does not establish a timeframe or budget for its implementation, to date very few actions have been carried out.
On the other hand, there is a Tsunami Warning System in Spain at the National Geographic Institute (IGN), which is operating by issuing tsunami warning messages. “The situation is that if a tsunami event occurs that affects the Spanish coast, the autonomous communities and the populations of the municipalities exposed to it are not prepared to receive and respond to the alert, and are totally vulnerable to the threat of a tsunami,” concluded González Rodríguez.