This is actually our first major earthquake where we have been personally affected and had to deal with it as an emergency situation. And we have observed a few things.
Why evacuate Buildings?
Hubby was working in a brand new building built to the top earthquake codes. There was no damage in the initial quake, and the power and water was still on. And yet once he had checked out the situation at the Station, and was back inside, he was evacuated until the building could be checked.
I really don’t understand this. Most of the serious injuries in Christchurch were caused by facades of building falling on people outside. Wellington has many earthquake prone buildings were this is a risk, and yet you turf people out of one designed to stand up to the pressure, and make them go out into a city where there is a fair risk of bits of buildings landing on you. And there is basically a log jam out of the city – so where was everyone supposed to go?
And where was civil defense?
You are supposed to be able to go to a Civil Defense Center in the event of not be able to get out of the city or get home. But Civil Defense didn’t open the shelters – other than in Seddon itself. Now Seddon obviously needed it -It’s the town nearest the epicenter, and homes were significantly damaged, and people were injured, but in Welly there was no central point where people could go to get help, support or congregate. Other than the cities many bars. Which I think was kinda missing the point.
So you can’t stay in an office where there is heat, light and power (And internet access for people who don’t have smartphones), you cant get home, and you can’t access the CD center because they didn’t open it. So the basic emergency plan in Wellington in the event of a big quake seems to be: head to the nearest bar and get bladdered.
Since the first Seddon quake a few weeks ago – Grab and Go emergency kits have been flying off the shelves. And yet Hubby noticed that despite thousands of people being on the streets , he saw 2 kits – and one of them was his. If you have a desk or office in the city – please – organise a kit for yourself. Hubby’s office kit is just in a Bum Bag – so there’s not a lot in there – but its enough for him to grab quickly. And review regularly – he has already spotted a few things he needs to change on the basis of Friday’s events. I doubt we will ever get everything we need – we are bound to miss the one item it turns out we really should have had – but we live and learn!
Well, try not to. I have to be honest – I really did not like being out in the WopWops on my own while hubby was in the city when this hit. Trying to stay calm and plan what we were going to do was not easy – especially given the lack of information on services available . This was where I would have liked Hubby to be able to stay put rather than have to wander round the city exposed. It added a time pressure to finding a place to stay that I felt we really didn’t need. Frankly, it was hard enough to deal with the situation calmly, without the added pressure. But the bottom line was, in this instance, we felt there was no need to leave the city immediately, and the best course of action was to get a hotel and wait it out.
It’s not a competition.
Comment on the UK Daily Mail:
NZ press are too busy reporting about the “Wellington” earthquake and the Wellington people are lapping it up. The fact that it was a large shallow earthquake on the South Island seems to have been missed because according to the vast majority of Wellingtonians the area in the South Island where the earthquake epicentre actually is doesn’t have a large enough population base to matter. As a mother who was running frantically trying to get to my sons school to see if they were alright in a small town near the earthquake I find that highly offensive.
Well,I find this comment highly offensive actually, so there! For a start, TVNZ had a news crew live in Seddon itself pretty much straight away and there has been plenty on the news about Seddon and Blenheim, and I have seen it described many times as The Seddon Quake, or the Marlborough Quake. Small towns around the area are not going to get a look in, any more than the TV crews and papers were going to camp out on my lawn to check how I was doing.
But worse is the accusation that people were “Lapping it up”. No, they weren’t. They were trying to get home – they have families and kids too you know. And because we have a high reliance on public transport – that was impossible for many people for many hours. Thousands of mothers were trying frantically to get to their children. Wives and Husbands trying to get hold of people they love – while the phones were down, buildings were evacuated and there was no way out of the city.
There were also thousands of children stuck in Wellington at the station trying to get home to their mums and dads. There were children in Masterton trying to get home to their families in Wellington and unable to do so because there were no trains running. Phone lines were down and they would not have been able to even talk to their mums and dads. But hey – they aren’t as important right?
FFS its not a bloody competition! I simply do not understand some of the awful attitudes displayed here about Earthquakes, and those affected by them. Whether its people all over NZ complaining about people in Christchurch still banging on about their issues (yes – really), or comments like this denigrating the people of Wellington because of a media bias – I just don’t get it.
Earthquakes are bloody scary.
No – they are not fun. Or Interesting. Or awesome. They are dangerous and scary and need to be taken seriously. Which is something a lot more of us do these days since the Christchurch earthquakes, where we saw just how bad they can be. Ive noticed that gone is the “Oh – its a quake – that’s cool” attitude that most people used to have (especially in the welly area where quakes are fairly frequent anyway). There used to be a fairly Blaze attitude to them. Not now though. People are much more wary, and much more scared.
So if you are newly in NZ, or about to arrive here, please don’t feel you have to “tough it out” and remain stoic. It is ok to be terrified if you are faced with a strong rattle. Don’t feel stupid for diving under the table, and don’t freak out or feel a failure if your next thought is to get a plane ticket outta here. Talk to your friends and ask them for help if you need it – people will rally round and help you out with advice, support and somewhere to stay if you need it. You will get used to them, and you will learn to deal with them, and they will calm down eventually.
A sense of humour helps.
A Facebook conversation later that afternoon while dealing the immediate aftershocks:
Fed up of banging my head as I dive under the table – so Ive grabbed a load of cushions from the sofas and now have my very own “Earthquake Fort”. I figure its gonna be a long night so may as well make the best of it
- Hope you have taken your colouring books & pencils…
Hmm – no such supplies – but I do have a Teddy Bear and Jack Daniels, which will have to do
May as well try and see the funny side of the mad dash for the safety of the Dining Table!