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Council briefings allay Swedish migrants’ earthquake fears

Oct 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

WHEN Emanuel Johansson and his wife Inari came to New Zealand on their honeymoon, they didn’t want to leave.

So they migrated here from Sweden this year, but one thing worried them about their new home – they were at a loss of what to do in an earthquake.

“People that live here have at school or at work all these drills and we (in Sweden) haven’t,” says Mrs Johansson.

So the couple were relieved to find Wellington City Council has been running a series of information briefings called Wellington Rocks with help from GNS Science.

The briefings are set to inform Wellingtonians about the likelihood of strong earthquakes in the area and provide a guideline of what residents can do to ensure their preparedness.

After participating in the nationwide earthquake drill, New Zealand Shakeout, Mr and Mrs Johansson and about 35 other people attended the Mt Victoria meeting

“We thought if maybe we would go to such a briefing we would get all the information on how to prepare,” she said.

Mr Johansson, who now works for Metservice, said earthquakes were really not an issue in Europe, which explained why earthquake drills did not often occur in their home country.

While they were still in Sweden, the couple heard about the Taranaki July 3 earthquake that was felt in Wellington

Naturally their friends and family were concerned about their impending honeymoon to New Zealand.

“(We heard about it) about a month before and everyone from home was ‘and you are going there!’.”

Mr and Mrs Johansson did not believe the international perception of New Zealand had changed significantly since the catastrophic Christchurch earthquakes.

“But also there are volcanoes, so people should also think about that,” said Mrs Johansson.

“It’s just as soon as they hear about it, but it’s not the first thing they think of. If you would say ‘Japan’, then of course people would think about more of those things, but not think of New Zealand directly,” she said.

Mr Johansson said he heard that compared to Japan, New Zealand was less prepared.

“The earthquake in Japan (the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011) was bigger, but there was less structural damage except for the nuclear power plant.

“Their (Japan’s) buildings are stronger than Christchurch’s,” he said.

Preparing for natural disasters like earthquakes is also important to Karen Simpson, a Hataitai home owner, who owns and runs a bakery in Strathmore.

Ms Simpson attended the briefing to get a bit more information on the likelihood of a big earthquake hitting the Wellington region, despite being well prepared herself.

“From what I’ve learnt I didn’t have any shock-horrors, thinking “Gosh, I didn’t think about that’,” she said.

“I’m also pleased to hear the risk is not as high as I thought it was,” she said, after hearing from earthquake geologist Russ Van Dissen from GNS Science that years of extensive study now showed the likelihood of a big earthquake hitting Wellington was down from 30% to 10%.

“I have got my kit at home and I’ve found it difficult to remind visitors that it’s there,” she said.

“So I have to remember to put a note on the bathroom mirror to remind guests to ask me about it. I thought that would be the best way to attack that.

“But I haven’t discussed what to do with the neighbours, which is silly.

Radio news is a form of communication that is heavily relied on in an emergency, so Ms Simpson was surprised at the lack of radio involvement in the Shakeout.

“I was surprised that (the New Zealand Shakeout earthquake drill on September 26) wasn’t on the radio, because that was what we had done at work,” she said.

There are four briefings over the next two weeks and they can be attended by any member of the public. Information can be found on the Wellington City Council website.

http://www.wellington.govt.nz/services/earthquake/resilience/briefings.html

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  1. I do hope Japanese people keep snortg, keep having hope and balance to deal with this horrible tragedy.I am a Brazilian, my Grandmother was japanese, even the long distance, I pray for you.God bless you all.Adriana Tanoue

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