Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch II

I woke up this morning to the following comment on yesterday's post regarding the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand:

Sitting in Christchurch now, power is back on in our part of the city. Initial rescues were civilian, but the brigades were not far behind, with army presence within hours. My son (New Brighton brigade) spent afternoon then most of night in town, home here (He had and still does not have power, water or sewerage) for a shower and a few hours sleep, then back into it. The work now is over to the specialised urban rescue squads, and the (sadly) DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) teams.
This is our second big shake, much worse this time.
Have a look ... and pray it doesn't happen to any of you.

The comment was posted by Garry Collins, a retired Senior Firefighter whose ISP number visits my blog regularly. I am glad to hear that Garry appears to be doing OK, as is his son, who is a member of the New Brighton Fire Brigade. The link to  provides some great news on the disaster including photos and video.

From all of the photos that I have seen, it appears that New Zealand has done well in it's preparation for and response to this event. There are several things which I have noticed in the various photos and videos.

1. - Order appears to be maintained, with only a dozen or so cases of looting reported as of yesterday evening. Considering the magnitude of the event and the number of people involved, I find this remarkable.

2. - A wide variety of responders appear to be at work including police, fire, USAR military and community response teams. All appear to be properly equipped, working under some form of command/control.

3. - Widespread conflagration does not appear to be occurring. Conflagration is our #1 concern in post shake scenarios. Conflagration is historically the #1 cause of death in the post shake period of large earthquakes.

4. - Although there have been some collapses of major modern buildings, the majority of collapses seem to have been to masonry buildings, many appearing to be rather historic in appearance.

5. - There have been a lot of things accomplished within the first 72 hours after the quake. We tell our customers to plan on being on their own for 72 hours after the "big one". While I am sure that some in the disaster zone were without emergency response resources for that long, it appears that the majority were not.

All of my impressions are based on a lightly trained eye looking at a few hundred images. Without knowing how representative the images are of the entire disaster, all of my impressions are only slightly better than a guess. The collection and interpretation of hard data will take some time, but should provide a wealth of information for those of us who share the risk levels that New Zealanders face.

I wish Garry, his family and his countrymen well and hope that New Zealand has a speedy recovery from this disaster. The first responders and people of Zew Zealand are in our thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to Garry for the info, thanks to you for reading.

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