Quake drill draws strong response

KATHRYN KING AND LARA HITOS
Last updated 12:00 27/09/2012
Great NZ shakeout
FAITH SUTHERLAND/Fairfax NZ

Aesha Arani, 11, from Somerset School holds on during the drill.

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At Palmerston North’s Somerset Crescent School, New Zealand’s ShakeOut was marked by the ringing of a bell.

As the bell tolled, the students of Room 3 hit the floor and were under their desks and holding the legs in a flash.

More than 63,000 people in the Manawatu-Whanganui region signed up to take part in the 10-second nationwide earthquake drill, which hit at 9.26am yesterday.

Eighteen Palmerston North primary and intermediate schools had a visit from police to help reinforce the message behind the drill.

At Somerset, students spent the morning learning about the drop, cover, hold rules for when an earthquake strikes.

They also played earthquake safety-related games and watched a video about how to earthquake-proof their homes before the ShakeOut ‘‘quake’’ hit, so when it did, they knew exactly what to do.

When the drill was finished, the students filtered out to their evacuation meeting point and were spoken to by four police officers.

The officers asked them to take the messages from the drill and come up with a plan with their family for how they would react in a real emergency.

Horizons Regional Council emergency manager Shane Bayley said he thought the drill went ‘‘really well’’, and was a great exercise in raising public awareness.

Mr Bayley said he hoped the drill would be run on a national level again in a few years’ time as a reminder to the public.

Feilding Promotion also linked up with businesses in the Manawatu town for ShakeOut.

After the earthquake drill businesses were asked to ring Feilding Promotion and report their name, address, damage to buildings and the number and condition of staff’.

‘‘We checked all our customers to make sure they were safe,” said Robert Harris employee Jessica Dais.

In a real disaster, Feilding Promotion is the contact for the business community, and the centre should be able to put all the information into the Civil Defence system.

Feilding Promotion manager Helen Worboys said she hoped the initiative would avoid situations such as the 2004 floods catching people unawares.

‘‘There wasn’t a system to alert the businesses, so they got flooded out,’’ she said.

And though many Feilding residents on the street carried on as usual
at 9.26am, Mrs Worboys said: ‘‘Even if they didn’t do anything, it’s still an awareness thing.’’

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- Manawatu Standard

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