New Zealand has been described as 4 million people living along a fault line and last Saturday was literally shocking for the Canterbury Region. At 04:35 there was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city (pop about 372,000) & the South Islands largest.
I wasn’t affected (as live in Auckland, North Island) but like just about everyone in New Zealand have family & friends in the area. I first learnt of it via text from my Sister & family from outside their home in Christchurch. I couldn’t get them on the phone but later found out, another text, they were shaken but otherwise OK.
While waiting I was following a stream of Twitter messages about the event. It was bizarre that when I spoke to them a little later could tell them more about the magnitude and impact outside their immediate area thanks to the #EQNZ tweet stream than they knew from “official” media sources. Radio & TV did have good coverage as the day went on but it was amazing how rapidly social media responded. This included tweets from official sources like Civil Defence and GeoNet quake reports.
Everyone I know is OK and fortunately, given the scale of the event, there were surprisingly few injuries and no direct fatalities. That’s thanks to the early morning timing, good building standards (for modern structures) and a lot of luck. The shock impacted buildings (CBD historic brick facades especially) and displacement/liquefaction destroyed sections, buildings and underground services in the suburbs & surrounding countryside.
The psychological and economic impacts will be massive as many homes & businesses were destroyed, just about all touched to some degree. I work for a nationwide retail chain and although some Stores & a Distribution Centre were affected there were no injuries reported. After structural checks and a huge clean up effort the stores are trading again and it was awesome to see The Warehouse Group and (related) Tindall Foundation make a one million dollar donation to the Christchurch Mayoral Relief Fund.
While NZ has a (comparatively) strong economy and welfare system the recovery will be a slow process with estimates of several billion dollars property damage. The assessment, rebuild & infrastructure repairs (mainly water, sanitation and roads) are made more difficult as, even today, they are still getting major aftershocks. However there has been an amazing response from the locals, regional & government services and the rest of the country but it’s just the start.
You’ve already helped, thanks!
“In conjunction with the Civil Defence, Red Cross staff and volunteers have been sourcing and distributing mattresses, bedding, tarps and assisting at welfare centres. Further assistance has been provided to the New Zealand Police to check on people with medical conditions such as those on life support.” (from the Red Cross NZ site)
Thanks for reading and, by doing that, helping the cause.
Some resources for my Kiwi readers:
Official National & Regional Website:
This afternoon (Wednesday 8 September) Gerry Brownlee, the Minister responsible for the recovery from the Canterbury earthquake, announced a new website to make it easy for the public to find authoritative information. The site centralises links to all information on the quake – both the immediate civil defence actions and recovery operations. It includes links to health, property, essential services, closures, support services, recovery, the latest news and essential contacts.
The site is www.canterburyearthquake.govt.nz (This is the official government website).
The public can also find local information at www.canterburyeathquake.org.nz which is managed by the Canterbury Regional Council.
A crowd source resource map:
Today Critchlow NZ who supply The Warehouse, my employers, demographics software (MapInfo) & data created a crowd sourced Google map of Christchurch emergency data. Anyone with info and a Google Logon (Gmail etc) can add/update as needed.
Christchurch Earthquake from WWW.CRITCHLOW.CO.NZ
Check out the Christchurch earthquake map created by some members of the Critchlow team to support those affected by the recent quakes. The crowdsource map is built on Google, and maps key information like portaloo locations, water refilling stations, open stores and petrol stations, road closures and much more. Check out the earthquake map, add more info, and pass on the URL to anyone who might find it useful.
Update 2010-09-11 The URL is now http://www.mapquake.co.nz/
View Christchurch & Canterbury Earthquake Map - What's open? in a larger map