Wānaka Sun       

New project launches coordinated AF8 response

Posted at 7:34am Thursday 18 Oct, 2018 | By Allison McLean journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz


Wanaka is one significant step closer to a South Island coordinated response to the next severe earthquake on the Alpine Fault after the Project AF8's “SAFER Framework" launch on Monday. This news comes on the heels of Project AF8 science leader Dr. Caroline Orchiston's presentation at Lake Wanaka Centre earlier this month detailing community resiliency against a possible Alpine Fault magnitude 8 earthquake (AF8).

Orchiston, senior research fellow and deputy director at the Centre for Sustainability at University of Otago, joined the two-year collaboration between AF8 Steering Group, South Island's Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups, scientists and partner agencies; the teams' efforts produced the South Island Alpine Fault Earthquake Response (SAFER) Framework, which launched at the National Lifelines Utilities Forum in Wellington. It is funded by the Ministry of CDEM and Resilience to Nature's Challenges.

Orchiston said the first job was to bring together the best Alpine Fault scientists in New Zealand in 2016 to workshop the various and inevitable Alpine Fault earthquake impact scenarios in order to develop one particular, worst-case scenario to predict an outcome while understanding the varying ways the Alpine Fault might behave.

The team then modified the scenario to suit the different South Island regions to align all six civil defence groups with the regional councils in order to coordinate a unified and national response to the expected widespread damage and disruption. SAFER Framework's key features are collaboration and partnership, which include education, social implications, relationship building and proactive preparation to enable communities to become more resilient against an earthquake of this scale.

SAFER is an ever-evolving and publicly accessible Framework that will be reviewed after the national Alpine Fault exercise in 2020. It will be fully reviewed five years after its adoption or after any events or changes in policy, responsibilities or organisational arrangements with a bearing on the Framework.

The AF8 Steering Group said the Framework offers proactive tools around community expectations as people support themselves within the first three days of a emergency in order to better deliver on and meet those needs.

Orchiston spoke to 300 locals about what a future AF8 means to the community during her presentation on October 2 at Lake Wanaka Centre. She said it is important for the people of Wanaka to ensure they are as prepared as possible; she also talked about her recommendations ranging from updating emergency kits to building community resilience. "I think it [the presentation turnout] speaks volumes about Wanaka being a place that has a good awareness of the issues it may face, not just earthquakes, but a strong community emphasis on learning and building resilience," said Orchiston.

Orchiston said Wanaka is less likely to be cut-off in a future AF8, but the community should take note of regional transport disruptions that will impact the town's flow of people and goods.  

With an emphasis on nurturing community spirit, Orchiston recommended, "Get to know your neighbours; make a family plan for what you'd do in the days after a disruptive event like AF8; learn as much as you can about earthquake risk in your area (your council website is a great place to start); get to know your local Civil Defence arrangements for a disaster; go to the Ministry of CDEM website for more ideas about preparedness."


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