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Thursday, 12 April 2012

image for Isle of Wight News - Tsunami threatens island
One of Nora Home's Gnomes in happier times.

A tsunami alert for the Isle of Wight has been issued by the UK Met Office after a landslip in Cuba has sent a wave travelling in our direction.

"The tsunami is currently three centimetres high," said Met Office spokesman, Matt Welcomme. "It was caused by a magnitude six earthquake in Cuba. Travelling at seven miles an hour, we expect it to make landfall on the Isle of Wight sometime next Tuesday."

The tsunami should not threaten shipping in the English channel, as it is currently lower than any of the waves in the Channel. However, it is expected to rise to fourteen centimetres in height when it reaches the island.

"We are advising people to stock up on sandbags and move all belongings to a higher floor," said Welcomme. "We are aware that the Isle of Wight has a higher proportion of bungalows than anywhere else in the UK, so we suggest that people in bungalows attempt to sell their house before Tuesday, and buy a house on higher ground."

Fortunately, the tidal wave is expected to hit the west coast of the island, which is the least populous area of the island. People in Alum Bay, Brighstone and Niton are the highest risk areas, although if the wave exceeds fourteen centimetres, it may cause a problem for the lower lying houses in Ventnor.

"We don't expect the wave to be able to travel as far inland as Billingham," said Welcomme. "However, you can never be too sure. If the wave does reach twenty centimetres, which is a possibility as it enters the narrow channel of the Channel, then the entire island could be submerged to a depth varying between one millimetre and three millimetres. This will be the equivalent of a heavy shower."

Such a submerging could cause hundreds of pounds of damage, and Nora Home, who runs the Gnome Home sanctuary fears for the safety of the sixteen thousand gnomes in her garden.

"How can I move all my gnomes to safety by Tuesday?" she wanted to know. "Will the council help me move them? No, they won't. They said because the Gnome Home is on the highest point in the island, I have nothing to fear. What do they know? When did they become tsunami experts. I saw the videos of Japan. I don't want that for my garden. Imagine a Channel Ferry landing on my house. I don't think it will survive. My house that is, the ferry will probably be okay."

David Pugh, councillor for Newport, has tried to calm residents.

"This is scaremongering by the Met Office," he said. "I don't think anybody will notice. Three millimetres? My garden pond is deeper than that. Otherwise the ducks would be walking."

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