On the morning of the earthquake people of Christchurch blithely went about their business, dressing carefully for the office, delivering children to school and driving to work. It was only much later that they thought about small things they could have done to prepare, “but it was such an unexpected event….!”
New Zealand lies on the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. The collision of those two plates under the North Island is what's driving most of our volcanism. There are thousands of earthquakes in New Zealand every year, but only about 100 – 150 quakes are big enough (or shallow enough) to be felt. A large, damaging earthquake could occur at any time, and can be followed by aftershocks that continue for days or weeks.
On some level we are aware of the risk posed by active volcanoes and earthquakes in NZ. If we can push these to back of mind though, it’s harder to avoid noticing increasingly frequent, severe storms and in some places, repeated floods. Can we really say that these events are unexpected?
We all know about family emergency plans (example here) but we don’t hear so much about preparing as a neighbourhood community...
During a large civil event our stretched emergency services will attempt to prioritize their response to the highest need. Accessibility may determine areas that they visit first. In your local neighbourhood you may already have trained and experienced medical and or rescue personnel. If not, one of your neighbours may have a radio and another an electricity generator. A neighbourhood Capability Plan can identify who holds an independent water supply, who in your vicinity knows how to work a defibrillator, who has medical skills etc. It could also list people in your neighbourhood who are likely to need immediate assistance or who may not be able to take care of their own evacuation.
Cambridge Neighbourhood Support has launched a campaign to increase the number of “Capable Community" neighbourhoods in our area. With the support of the Waipa District Council, we are supporting neighbourhood communities to create bespoke emergency plans. The more capable communities we have in our area, the safer we will be and the lighter the load for our emergency services during an event.
How prepared would your neighbourhood be to survive and treat injured people without power, water, mobile phone signals and the supermarket…? Who is likely to need immediate assistance? What skills and equipment are already available in your neighbourhood?
If you would like your neighbourhood to take part in our Capable Communities Campaign, you can access our templates below.
Otherwise, contact Cambridge Neighbourhood Support at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for your neighbourhood to be included in our campaign.