Wellington needs to 'lift game' and get prepared for the big quake

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (Wremo) regional manager Jeremy Holmes, left, and group controller David ...
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Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (Wremo) regional manager Jeremy Holmes, left, and group controller David Russell planning for the November 14 earthquake anniversary.

Wellington can still do better is the message from the two former military men now commanding the region's civil defence efforts.

Jeremy Holmes is the new regional manager of the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (Wremo), and David Russell is its group controller. They replace the retiring Bruce Pepperell, who did both jobs.

The pair say November's Kaikōura earthquake was a timely reminder to Wellingtonians that many were not adequately prepared for a disaster.

Wremo regional manager Jeremy Holmes, left, and group controller David Russell, right, with Bruce Pepperell, the man ...
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Wremo regional manager Jeremy Holmes, left, and group controller David Russell, right, with Bruce Pepperell, the man they are replacing.

If the 7.8 magnitude earthquake had happened during work hours, the impact would have been far worse, Holmes said.

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"There would have been a different story to tell, and this is a timely reminder we all need to lift our game. We still have a long way to go to be truly resilient.

"I am looking forward to working with others in the region to improve our level of preparedness in this area."

The confusion around a tsunami threat last year – when people did not know what they should do or where was safe – was of the most concern, he said.

From October 22 Wremo's attention would be focused on highlighting the tsunami risk and what to do.

Wremo would be promoting the "Are you ready to walk out" campaign, which urged people to walk to the closest blue tsunami line.

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"We want this done as part of daily activities so people and groups become familiar with the route, becoming muscle memory, so they feel confident instead of waiting for something to happen."

Earthquake planning guides would also be circulated to all homes in the region, which included step-by-step instructions to increase preparedness.

"The key message is to be resilient, we all have a role to play in doing things to be prepared, making us a much stronger community going forward," Holmes said.

Wremo was planning other "preparedness" events to mark the November 14 quake anniversary, such as Get Ready week, which started on Monday. 

Nationally, Civil Defence would launch an alert warning system that could reach all mobile phones without an app.

"The events of last year are a reminder that you are never as good as you need to be in the event of a big disaster," Pepperell said.

For the long term, Russell was developing a future earthquake plan for the region, which would provide an immediate response for the first seven days after a major event, while rescue and cleaning up were going on.



 

 - Stuff

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