Good vibrations after earthquake drill

LAIRD HARPER AND KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012
TARANAKI DAILY NEWS ONLINE

The New Plymouth District Council participate in the national ShakeOut drill.

Drop, cover and hold during the nation’s first mass earthquake drill
LAIRD HARPER/Fairfax NZ
DROP, COVER AND HOLD: Ohangai playgroup kids, from left, Emily Tippett, 4, Tobi Price, 4, and Hayley Shanks, 4, did the drop, cover and hold thing during the nation’s first mass earthquake drill.

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As the clock ticked over to 9.26am yesterday, almost 30,000 Taranaki residents hit the deck in New Zealand's first nationwide earthquake drill.

Whether it was a handful of Ohangai pre-schoolers or the province's largest businesses, everyone knew exactly what to do.

Taranaki residents joined 1.3 million people across the country to drop, cover and hold.

Ohangai Playgroup parent Belinda Price said that although none of the youngsters knew what an earthquake really was, it gave parents peace of mind "knowing their children would get to cover no matter where they are".

For those whose school days are but a distant memory, the drill was no less exciting.

New Plymouth District Council chief executive Barbara McKerrow was in a meeting at the time and climbed under the table and held on.

She said it was a great chance for the council, or any organisation, to practice its emergency response procedures.

"We're responsible for services like water, sewerage and roading that could be affected, so we need to know how to deal with that."

Her South Taranaki counterpart agreed.

"Councils have a special role in civil emergencies so it was important for our organisation to participate fully," South Taranaki District Council chief executive Craig Stevenson said.

"It's vital that all New Zealanders are prepared in case of an emergency, whether they are at work or at home," Mr Stevenson said.

The fact so many people - more than a quarter of the province's population - got on board gave Taranaki Civil Defence's Lynsey Wilcox confidence Taranaki will be ready.

"The aim was to have a quarter of the population participate - we got 28,404 people, which is more than that.

"Hopefully it will stick in people's minds now."

She said the education process didn't stop with the drill, and a number of large Taranaki businesses had developed disaster plans and strategies.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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