- Date Friday 5 October 2018, 3:48 PM
Catastrophic earthquake will test resilience of Waimate community
The power went off, the lights went out and computers went down but it was all for a good cause – practising what would happen if there was a rupture of the Alpine Fault causing a major earthquake.
Named Exercise Pandora, Council staff downed tools and mobilised as the local Emergency Management team and started responding to the disaster.
Chief Executive Stuart Duncan said the exercise was critical to understand our existing capability, what the needs of the community might look like and how we would respond. The rupture of the Alpine Fault has the potential to cause a catastrophic disaster with the greatest impact on the West Coast of the South Island but Waimate will not be immune.
“The information we have and the exercise we conducted proved that we have some very good plans in place to deal with a disaster of this magnitude but we also have vulnerabilities and we’ll be looking to find ways of dealing with them,” says Mr Duncan.
Some of the key take-outs of the exercise are knowing what assets are available in the district to draw on, what the public will expect of the emergency response, and how resilient the community is.
“A rupture of the Alpine Fault is extremely serious. Scientists predict there is a 30% chance of a rupture within the next 50 years, producing an earthquake of approximately 8 on the Richter scale. We are likely to be without external help for a week and we can expect extensive damage.”
“We will be asking people to conserve water and fuel, expect long power outages, evacuation centres may need to be opened and we’ll be encouraging people to use text messages rather than calling people as the cell phone network will be compromised.”
Exercise Pandora is just one example of emergency management exercises where Council staff and other agencies come together to plan and practise for different scenarios, including severe earthquakes and other natural disasters.
“While our resources, including people, will be stretched, the exercise proved we have talented and knowledgeable people who can respond to a significant disaster, however, the community will need to prepare to be able to support itself.”