Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ready For A Disaster?

I still haven't put together that blooming emergency kit! You might think after two earthquakes in less than six months, this blonde lass would be smart enough to get her act together and get ready for a natural disaster, or a power outage even! Nope. I definitely am one for the cliche' because 'my road is paved with good intentions.' I did get a great little plastic box with a handle to put all the bits into, but then I used it for something else. (Really, some boxes have a million good uses!)

When I think back to both those earthquake events, I don't think an emergency box would have done us much good anyway. In my own home, I did have a place where all medicines and supplies were kept. But the house was too damaged to really access during those cold dark hours just after the September event.

New Zealand has something of an earthquake emergency box, called the EQC,The Earthquake Commission.

The EQC inspectors were on our street yesterday. You can see them here and there around the city doing the 'Rapid Assessment' of every building in Christchurch. It's a new approach that they put into place after the February 22nd event.

After the September 4th event jokes abounded about the EQC having invisible workers. There was a sense that things simply weren't progressing fast enough. The Civil Defense was into Christchurch on that Saturday, September 4th and were everywhere present, and progress was rapid. As the emergency status was removed, progress seemed to slow.

This time, EQC have developed a 'triage' approach to assessment, and aren't even waiting for people to make claims. This is good. It seems like September 4th was a dress rehearsal that revealed all the problems.

Let's face it, EQC never had anything to deal with like this before. They were formed in 1945, fourteen years after the Naiper Earthquake of 1931. We haven't had a major earthquake since their formation. (And may we have another 79 years without one, please.) I've heard it said that up until a few months ago, EQC's specialty was making fridge magnets with their telephone number on. Made me laugh!

EQC is the government agency that is in supposed to be prepared to deal with these disasters. I guess having that emergency box checked made us all feel better, but one has to question how ready were they? How ready could they be when we haven't faced anything like it since 1931? How ready can anyone be ready?

I don't think it is possible to be ready for a natural disaster. That's what makes them so powerful and so frightening. They come fast, and in unimaginable ways. The cruelty of an extra forceful 6.3 earthquake in a city that was in recovery from a 7.1. A tsunami of ultra-proportions following on the heels of a 9.0 earthquake. Could anybody be ready for these events? Are you?

P.S. If you know how to keep a flashlight from going walkabout, can you let me know?

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