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Friday, March 9, 2012

Christ Church Cathedral damage - CERA video

CERA have produced a video explaining the extent of the damage caused to the Cathedral by the earthquakes on the 23rd of December last year. The 4m 58sec video is a tour of the outside of the Cathedral with explanations of the damage done, and the increased weaknesses in the structure. There are also a few shots from photographs taken inside after the 23rd.

The video is on the CERA website here.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Radiation effects on bird life: Fukushima and Chernobyl

Researchers, including staff from the Univeristy of Southern Carolina, are comparing the effects of the radiation levels at Fukuishima on bird life and observations from Chernobyl.

At the moment the relatively lower radiation levels at Fukushima are having a greater impact on bird numbers in some species than anticipated. An article about the research is available here.

The problems that plague us: Japan and Christchurch

The following is a quote about Japan from Annelise Riles, a professor of Law in Far East Legal Studies and a professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. 
“Sadly, the recovery is plagued by a number of serious political problems.”
“They include an unwillingness of the mainstream press to fully investigate or to place news in analytical context; an unwillingness of elites in position of authority, whether in the private sector or the government, to put aside politics as usual and address the needs of the many victims; and a lingering unwillingness on the part of many citizens to openly challenge the government even though many people privately voice their total distrust of government claims and cynicism about its motivations.”
Professor Riles is currently helping to organize a two-day conference to begin March 11 to bring business and political leaders from Japan together to examine the lessons from the earthquake and tsunami.

More info here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sounds of the Japanese earthquake

Recordings from the thousands of sensors situated around Japan are being used to analyse the magnitue 9 earthquake in many ways.

Some data has been used to reproduce the sounds made as the plates moved. These are not real-time recordings, time has been compressed to enable the low frequency sound to be heard and produce in minutes or seconds what took place in hours.

There is an article complete with video clips on Newswise (here) and Science Daily (here). The research was originally published by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

CCC Inflexibility a Disaster for Quake Hit Avonside

Sam Johnston of the Student Volunteer Army and the Farmy Army's John Hartnell have stated that the inflexible attitude of Christchurch City Council staff got in the way of volunteers wanting to help quake damaged communities. Our resident's group had similar problems after the February 2011 quake.

Despite there being no electricity or telecommunications working, CCC stuck rigidly to its normal procedure that each individual household had to log on and report they had no water/sewerage, or try and get through on cell phones running out of power to the overloaded CCC helpdesk which rarely answered.

We later met with CCC and said that in future emergencies, someone from our community group would ring our CCC community coordinator to report damage on behalf of all householders. We thought we had it pretty well sorted until the June 13 quake. Despite the best efforts of our CCC community coordinator and our MP, we remained without water.

In a last ditch attempt we managed to contact the CCC manager in charge of water supplies but his response was "How did you get this number". He said a tanker had been sent. None of us saw it.

  • We asked him to ring or text us when the next tanker was due so we could tell the couple of hundred affected households and they would be ready and waiting - NO.
  • Can the tanker driver sound the horn so we know he is here - NO.
  • The streets are full of trucks because of infrastructure repairs. Can the driver put a sign on the truck to show it's a water tanker - NO.

A vintage fire engine appeared briefly but we had no idea it was our water supply, next day a water tanker arrived unannounced after dark. People couldn't plan their lives around erratic, unannounced deliveries of water and left to live in unaffected suburbs.

The council needs to improve communications within its own departments, and with community groups. Volunteers here who tried to help their community by liaising with CCC are now so alienated, it's difficult to find anyone willing to take on this role.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Australian Parliamentary report on the not very good post-disaster performance of insurance companies

As a result of perceived poor performance by Australian insurance companies during and after natural disasters, the Australian Federal Parliament instituted an investigation.

On the 27th of February this year the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs presented it's report, In the Wake of Disasters, to Parliament (download it from here). Volume 1 covered the operation of the insurance industry during disaster events under the following chapter headings:
    • The general insurance industry in Australia
    • General Insurance Code of Practice
    • Lack of consumer awareness
    • Lack of consumer protections
    • Dispute resolution processes
The recommendations make extremely interesting reading, and a number have significant applicability here. As a large part of the New Zealand insurance industry has an Australian base, implementing similar changes here should appear logical. If the insurance industry doesn't see that logic then perhaps there should be a New Zealand enquiry into the performance of insurance companies.

The rest of this blog post contains the summary and recommendations from the report. (click the link to continue).