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Digging Deeper Into Natural Hazard Management

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Digging Deeper Into Natural Hazard Management

As the second anniversary of the first big Canterbury earthquake looms, emergency management specialists are gathering in Christchurch to discuss issues arising from the social consequences of a natural hazard.

Massey University’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research is coordinating the Sixth Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference, from August 20-24, in partnership with Canterbury University. It features presentation topics ranging from a natural disaster’s effects on women and children, the deaf community and refugees; as well as supporting psychosocial recovery from such a disaster.

It will also include the announcement of the winners of two British Council Christchurch Scholarships. Offered in partnership with Massey University, spatial, industrial and transport design students and graduates were invited to submit concepts to support Christchurch’s redesign as the city attempts to recover from the effects of shakes and aftershocks dating back to September 4, 2010.

The earthquake-stricken city will not be the sole focus of the conference however, with presentations being made related to the Victoria bushfires of 2009 and last year’s tsunami in Japan.

Massey University doctoral candidate Stuart Fraser will speak about the effectiveness of people being evacuated from building rooftops (vertical evacuation buildings), in a tsunami.

A paper analysing a decade of lahar warning research at Mt Ruapehu is also timely following the eruption at neighbouring Mt Tongariro last week.

Joint Centre for Disaster Research director Dr David Johnston says the biennial conference, which attracts speakers from across New Zealand and Australia, is the first since a rash of natural disasters including the Canterbury earthquakes, floods in Queensland and the Japan tsunami struck the Asia/Pacific region.

“These conferences usually focus across a range of natural hazards, but because there was a lot of added interest in Christchurch, we have added a pre-conference workshop to focus on the Canterbury earthquakes.”

Organised in partnership with the US-based Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, this workshop will address issues including the consequences of an earthquake to individuals and communities over varying time periods, economic vulnerability arising from such a disaster and the effectiveness of earthquake management procedures.

One of the post-conference workshops will include a field trip around key locations in Christchurch to show the impact of the earthquakes and ongoing recovery efforts.

The Sixth Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference is being held at Canterbury University on August 21-22. There is a pre-conference workshop on August 20 and further workshops on August 23-24.

The two British Council Christchurch Scholarship winners will be announced at 4.30pm on Wednesday August 22.



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