Disaster Preparedness – Who’s Ready?

I have been watching closely the events unfolding in Christchurch as not only Canterbury but the whole of New Zealand and a large proportion of the international community respond and rise to the call to assist the people of Christchurch.

A terrible terrible event that will impact all of New Zealand for a long time to come. The devastation, death and trauma that Christchurch people have been subjected to is to suggest as John Key said today ‘our darkest day’.

Without a doubt the CBD area of Christchurch has bourne the brunt with high rise buildings collapsing which has resulted in the loss of life. I commend our urban rescue teams, our Police, our medical professionals, our Civil Defence experts, our defence force personnel and all of the other organisations and volunteers who have responded to assist…in some cases when the fate of their own loved ones is unknown. An incredible sense of duty and commitment to asisting those in their time of need.

It also needs to be mentioned those in the outlying areas of Christchurch. We have all seen the damage to infrastructure and buildings, the flooding and the general breakdown of all services to these areas. People need help.

What this has highlighted after an event such as we have seen is that emergency services will be stretched. Resources will be scarce and it will take time for responders and assistance to reach you. I think the national and international response to this event has been exceptional and all involved with the organisation of it need to be acknowledged…however…what it has also highlighted is that some people are clearly ill prepared to deal with an event such as this.

It has been some 30 or so hours since the quake struck and the asisstance to the outer lying areas has been slow but for good reason…the priority clearly at this point has to be focusing on getting those trapped and alive out.

Civil Defence advises that people need to be prepared to survive for three days after an event unassisted…this will clearly be the case in Christchurch. Already we see people without water and food and starting to criticise authorities for not getting help to them. I wonder if these people considered preparing themselves for a disaster and ensuring they had an emergency kit, water for three days, food for three days…the list goes on.

My heart goes out to all…but I dont think the authorities deserve the criticism they are receiving under these trying conditions. It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that we are prepared for a disaster. I am sure for alot of people this will be a lesson that this event will drive home and moving forward hopefully we will see more people taking responsibility for their own safety and ensuring they are better prepared to deal with the aftermath of a disaster.

Help will get to you but it will take time…that is reality.

Be strong Christchurch…you will all get through this.

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