If You Can’t Get Away from a Tsunami, Get Above It
Swiss Reinsurance Company (Swiss Re) has decided to fund a new GeoHazards International (GHI) project to design a prototype vertical tsunami evacuation structure for the city of Padang, in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra. Padang faces an urgent challenge: How to save lives in a fast-growing, tsunami-prone city built at sea level, far from high ground. Recent experience in Padang with ordinary horizontal evacuations to safe ground have led to traffic jams and have proved too slow to be effective for a large portion of the population. If a tsunami were to occur today, as many as 100,000 people might perish. In collaboration with Indonesian, Japanese and Stanford University partners, GHI envisions a different solution for Padang: Several 5-10-meter-high “hills” to be built within the city that would allow people to walk to safety above a tsunami. We call such a hill a “Tsunami Evacuation Raised Earth Park,” or TEREP.
Andi Syukri and Veronica Cedillos are coordinating the project.
Building Higher Ground
With generous Swiss Re funding, GHI and its partners will design a prototype TEREP. While GHI’s Veronica Cedillos will be the project manager, we have hired a local project coordinator, Andi Syukri. This GHI team, pictured to the right, will work closely with Indonesian government officials, academics and practicing engineers..
Our Long-Range Goals
If all goes well, Indonesian contractors will start construction in one year. Once residents have strolled over the prototype and explored the elevated gardens, we hope that the larger Padang community will embrace and copy this solution. One day, TEREPs might be built throughout Padang, and perhaps in other Indonesian coastal cities, so that all residents could escape to higher ground within a short distance of their homes. I don’t know of a better way to save 100,000 lives.