North Canterbury Earthquake Update
It's been a long time since my last earthquake update, so I wanted to give you an update following the most recent North Canterbury earthquakes. The challenge of the seismic events on Monday morning will require significant action. Fortunately, Christchurch has been largely undamaged but we are all shaken.
Our emergency responders did a terrific job. I went to the Linwood Emergency Shelter at the College and over 400 people arrived, mostly evacuated due to tsunami danger. There was a two metre wave recorded in Kaikōura and up to a metre in Wellington. At the Linwood centre everything was very calm, well organised and professional. Great job everyone. Thank you everyone who has helped with this effort.
There was a real feeling of déjà vu- we had all done this before but now we know exactly what to do. And that is very comforting!
Our thoughts are with the people of North Canterbury, Kaikōura, Marlborough, Wellington and beyond and particularly with the families who have lost loved ones.
It was a very complex earthquake event - at 7.5 on the Richter scale it was the third largest ever recorded in NZ. We now know there were two earthquakes- the first at Culverden on a known fault which triggered another at Kekerengu (near Seddon) and a series of newly identified faults.
The National Crisis Management Centre is activated and the Hurunui and Kaikōura District Councils have declared a state of local emergency. A Civil Defence Centre has been set up at the Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura and priority welfare services have been provided.
More support workers including Police and Red Cross are arriving today. Also Helicopters are being sent in today and everyone who wants to leave should be able to do so.
HMNZS Canterbury will support the ongoing response in the Kaikōura region, which has been hardest-hit by Monday’s events. It is on its way to the area but is being hampered by rough weather. The immediate priority is ensuring delivery of clean water, food and other essentials to the residents of Kaikōura and the estimated 1000 tourists in the town. The New Zealand Defence Force has been tasked with delivering the essential items Civil Defence is asking for – first by NH90 helicopters, which have already made a number of runs, and also on board the Canterbury.
The Ministry of Education has advised that based on the current situation most schools that were closed on Monday are likely to be to open Tuesday. NZQA has announced that NCEA exams will proceed on Tuesday, other than for schools that remain closed. In that case, students will be eligible for a derived grade. For New Zealand Scholarship students whose school is closed, NZQA will find an alternative venue.
Roads and infrastructure- there has been significant damage to the State Highway network, particularly SH1 between Picton and Christchurch. Multiple slips have completely blocked State Highway 1 north of Kaikōura State Highway 1, Picton to Blenheim/Seddon is now open but Seddon to Cheviot remains closed. Cheviot to Christchurch is open.
An alternative inland state highway route has been re-established between Picton and Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass. And work is being undertaken on the inland route, the old state highway, to provide direct access to Kaikōura.
Interislander ferries have resumed sailings carrying vehicle passengers and freight, but not foot passengers due to damage to the Picton terminal.
The North Island Main Trunk Line (NIMT) between Palmerston North and Wellington has opened. All passenger train services have resumed today in time for the morning peak, and the main railway station in Wellington is been checked for safety.
Managing the costs. NZ still has relatively low debt compared to other countries so is in a good position. We have monetary and fiscal headroom to respond to a natural disaster.
The three year National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) provides $154m for response to emergency events on State highways and a further $268m for similar works on local roads. As well as that, there is $85m unallocated funding for State Highways and $42m for local roads to respond to this earthquake event and any other events that may occur between now and 2018.
In the 2015/16 EQC received premium revenue of $280.2 million and currently has access to $4.69 billion of reinsurance protection. Also, Local councils will have their own insurance.
Personal Wellbeing. It is OK to feel stressed after a night of earthquakes. David Meates CEO of the CDHB, recommends that we be kind to ourselves and understanding of others. Keep in touch with our friends and neighbours, particularly the elderly or those that live alone, and don't be afraid to ask for help. And if people are having trouble dealing with stress talk to their GP team in the first instance but if a GP is not available contact the Canterbury Support Line. Their number is 0800 777846.
Recovery from any natural disaster is a long hard road, and sometimes it feels that it is two steps forward and one step back. But with crisis also comes opportunity and in Christchurch we have been forced to think differently, to understand who and what are important in our lives and that has brought us closer together as a community. And that’s got to be a good thing.
Nearly six years on from the major earthquakes that destroyed our town we are different people but we are also well on the way to building a new, people friendly, 21st century sustainable city that will be a great place to live, work and take care of our families for many generations to come.
Our thoughts are with those in the midst of these latest earthquakes. Take care and look after each other.