Disasters conference – 18 months since the big quake
Disasters conference – 18 months to the day since Christchurch’s big quake
August 20, 2012
The heat will go on the impact, response and recovery of the Christchurch earthquakes this week with the sixth annual Australasian natural hazard management conference at the University of Canterbury campus.
More than 250 experts, scientists, researchers, government and CERA people will attend the August 22 and 23 conference which is expected to produce substantial national and international interest, according to organiser and UC lecturer Tom Wilson.
Christchurch will be the central topic and it will be 18 months today day since the city was severely impacted by the fatal February 22, 2011 earthquake.
``This disaster is one of the greatest geo-technical disasters for a major city. We've never seen such a high proportion of a city affected by both slope instability and liquefaction damage following an earthquake. It’s just unprecedented
``Christchurch is an experiment unfolding. It’s the first major disaster in New Zealand since the Napier earthquake in 1931. The breadth of disciplines we need to understand to recover from this disaster is enormous, ranging from geo-science, structural engineering to social sciences, health, law, education and the arts. It’s incredible watching this disaster unfold in Christchurch.
``For people like us who follow these events, it is like Christchurch is a major disaster laboratory. We’re now watching how New Zealand will recover, how we can enhance the city and how resilient we are.’’
Wilson said it was a great chance to learn the lessons of how Christchurch manages and recovers from the earthquakes so other cities in New Zealand could respond more effectively in another disaster and there was bound to be another one at some point considering our active tectonic landscape.
So this conference is holistic looking at all areas that are affected, as a result of the earthquakes, and it is just fantastic the CERA and central government are participating. It is exciting they are engaged, and contributing along with the researchers and other specialists.
The economic impact is massive. Estimates based on property damage place the combined cost of the Canterbury earthquakes at around $nz20 billion. This amount is the equivalent to approximately 10 per cent of New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The estimated cost of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami was around three to four percent of Japan’s annual GDP. While private insurers were bearing a significant portion of the costs, the earthquakes had caused a notable deterioration in the government’s operating deficit over the 2010/2011 year.
Wilson said it was fascinating to follow the course New Zealand had decided to recover from the earthquakes. There has been a lot of evidence from overseas and New Zealand that recovery must actively involve the community, forming a bottom up approach.
The response to Christchurch’s earthquake has been a slightly more mixed model with direct leadership from central government with CERA providing a direct approach, but with significant effort to engage and work with communities. It is very interesting to watch how it is unfolding, he said.
Aspects of the grounding of MV Rena off Tauranga last year will also be discussed, providing an opportunity to reflect on the reactions by Maritime New Zealand, regional council and Department of Conservation.
Some of the presentations will look at the earthquake insurance, Christchurch’s residential rebuild, volcanic eruption warning challenges, behavioural response to Christchurch’s earthquakes, 80 years after Napier’s earthquake and relocating business after Christchurch’s earthquakes.