Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Ready for the Big One?

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  • John Fouhy,

    It's interesting to look at how technology affects our disaster planning.

    For instance, the list recommends a radio. Well, I think we have one (along with bottled water and canned food -- my partner's a lot more organised than I am..). But I couldn't say for sure; I never use it. How many people (especially under 30s) these days have a radio that's not in their car or part of their cellphone?

    But on the other hand, I have a torch. It's got an LED bulb and is powered by a dynamo (i.e. you crank it; no batteries). It's not great to use but I've not no worries about it not working in an emergency.

    And ham radio enthusiasts have been very helpful in natural disasters recently, but that seems like a dying hobby. Cell phones are much easier, but much more reliant on infrastructure..

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Beyond musing about the ethics of when it's okay to start looting the local service station

    Those bastards have been overcharging you for bread for years, eh?

    Around here, summer tornados are the most significant risk. I'm proud to own one of those wind-up torches, too (and, yes, a full hot water tank).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    My Dad always tells me the story about the 1960 one when they were living in Napier. He said they drove off into the country to stay with family when the alert was raised (this was less than 30 years after 1931 so there was due panic). But he also said a lot of people went down to the beach to watch it.... I guess some things never change.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    food for three days

    I have two teenagers. Do you know how much bread that is?

    There's a packet of dried figs my mum brought up at Christmas...

    I do have a transistor radio though. They broadcast emergency information on Radio Sport, right?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I was given one of those wind up dynamo radios, with battery back up, that also has a torch. The dial is so sensitive though, it keeps getting confused between bFm and The Edge, which is unforgivable, even in a crisis.

    As for water, didn't someone here use the phrase 'Think Cistern?'

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    But on the other hand, I have a torch. It's got an LED bulb and is powered by a dynamo (i.e. you crank it; no batteries). It's not great to use but I've not no worries about it not working in an emergency.

    We have similar ones that have a large trigger you squeeze to charge. They punch out quite a bit of light, actually; certainly more than the solar version on dad's keyring.

    Plenty of canned food and bottled water. I must be one of the last people under 25 with a stand-alone single speaker transistor radio (which lives in the kitchen), but we don't have batteries for emergency use - pop those on the shopping list I guess?

    Fava beans sound good. Add a nice chianti and a good-sized hunting knife and the world's your post-apocalyptic oyster.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I wasn't yet in secondary school in 1991, when I saw the previews on TV for "The Big One". Basically, the guy who correctly predicted the San Fran earthquake in the late 1980s predicted that the Big One would strike Wellington in early December that year. There was a mad rush to prepare for the worst. We're still waiting...

    Must pay a visit to the Film Archive.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I guess we will have to work our way through the backlog of homemade relishes and chutneys, some of which are a few years old.

    My Sony wind-up radio is always to hand. Where are all those wind-up computers? One was being passed around at a Wellington Great Blend a year or two back.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    How many people (especially under 30s) these days have a radio that's not in their car or part of their cellphone?

    I have a shower radio shaped like a frog, which I use daily to listen to NatRad during my ablutions. But I am 35.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I have a shower radio shaped like a frog, which I use daily to listen to NatRad during my ablutions. But I am 35.

    You raise a good point. Another service of NatRad (and probably Radio Sport), enhancing New Zealand's disaster preparedness. I mean why else do people have small battery powered radios?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I do have a transistor radio though. They broadcast emergency information on Radio Sport, right?

    They reported both Vettori's sore neck and Oram's "I fell over the grass and broke my knee (again)" injury. That seems to qualify as "emergency information".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    For the HB earthquake , even in 1931, there was a constant stream of cars heading into and out of HB by the evening of the quake.
    My worry is the electricity network through the north island is vulnerable to volcanic eruption/quake as there is a concentration at Whakamaru, which has Auckland's lines concentrated for about 1 km wide.

    Replacement could take months

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I take comfort in the fact that, living on a peninsula near sea level, and on the slopes of a volcano at that, if the Big One does hit, I probably won't survive to worry about food and water-and if I do, I can always raid the neighbour's fridge for pickled caperberries and cranberry juice.

    A friend of mine is also doing interesting things with online music over at Hypetape, if that's your bag.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Alien Lizard (anag),

    There's a packet of dried figs my mum
    brought up at Christmas...

    OMG! You'd eat your mother's vomit?
    Are there Pelicans in the family tree?
    :- )

    The Arrrgh Complex • Since Jan 2010 • 158 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It's not hard to see why Civil Defence gets antsy about people going down to the beach for a gander.

    And am I the only one detecting a certain... terseness in response to the inevitable bitches about CD "over-reacting". Damned if you do...

    Still, you've got to love the cheerful obliviousness with with human beings build cities on flood plains, malarial swamps, fault lines and the flanks of active volcanoes.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    For the HB earthquake , even in 1931, there was a constant stream of cars heading into and out of HB by the evening of the quake.
    My worry is the electricity network through the north island is vulnerable to volcanic eruption/quake as there is a concentration at Whakamaru, which has Auckland's lines concentrated for about 1 km wide.

    Replacement could take months

    Electricity wouldn't be the end of it, either. Even localised events could wipe telephone services out for weeks-and most people have zero plan to work around issues like that. The massive 2000 pr cable under Mangere Bridge that was burnt through (twice!) by roadworkers back in 2005ish took over three weeks to get sorted out, with some neighbourhoods going so far as to organise daily group excursions to houses with phonelines outside the area for elderly and disabled residents.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Still, you've got to love the cheerful obliviousness with with human beings build cities on flood plains, malarial swamps, fault lines and the flanks of active volcanoes.

    The alternative is living in Palmerston North.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    But he also said a lot of people went down to the beach to watch it.... I guess some things never change.

    I've lately wondered if GNS staff and media organisations should consider avoiding using the word "wave" to describe a tsunami.

    It's correct scientifically but it's also completely misleading to people who don't typically think of a water wave as a surging wall of water with a 100 km wavelength of force behind it that won't slow down and stop as it comes up the beach. Just listening to some people being interviewed about why they were going to watch made that fairly clear. A 50 cm wave can be very destructive.

    Meanwhile back at Talcahuano Port across the Pacific, there are some telling pictures of what a 2 metre tsunami can easily do (eg. scroll to 33, 34 and 35).

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Still, you've got to love the cheerful obliviousness with with human beings build cities on flood plains, malarial swamps, fault lines and the flanks of active volcanoes.

    I spent much of the weekend out of range of phone, TV, radio and internet on a beach on the east coast. On coming back into reception on Sunday afternoon, my first three texts were, "Wait, what tsunami? I didn't hear about this!"

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    They reported both Vettori's sore neck and Oram's "I fell over the grass and broke my knee (again)" injury. That seems to qualify as "emergency information".

    I approve this message.

    OMG! You'd eat your mother's vomit?
    Are there Pelicans in the family tree?

    Yes. You have outed me. We are all pelicans.

    The alternative is living in Palmerston North.

    Man has a point.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Clubfoot .,

    In the large caldera-forming eruptions, a lot of the erupted material accumulates within the caldera itself as it collapses, and the old land surface may be buried to several kilometres depth.

    For those near Taupo, an asbetos suit might come in handy - looks like some Jules Verne type venturing could be had...

    Cook Strait • Since May 2009 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    The alternative is living in Palmerston North.

    That's a bit like saying suicide is an alternative to growing old. Do not want.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    It's correct scientifically but it's also completely misleading to people who don't typically think of a water wave as a surging wall of water with a 100 km wavelength of force behind it that won't slow down and stop as it comes up the beach, and just listening to some people being interviewed about why they were going to watch made that fairly clear. A 50 cm wave can be very destructive.

    An excellent point, made very clear in the video footage of the tsunami hitting the parking lot outside the FBI building in Pago Pago.

    The 'wave' is less than a metre high (perhaps only half-way up the wheels of the cars), but the force is immense.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Another slightly chilling thought experiment: What would be the knock-on economic effects if the port facilities in Auckland and Onehunga vanished in a tsunami or under meters of ash?

    I ask that because in all the press around the latest tsunami alert, I was rather surprised (and shouldn't have been) to find out that while the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach aren't exactly tourist draws, over US$200 billion dollars worth of cargo passed through last year. (San Diego, Oakland and Seattle aren't exactly insignificant either.) I think the US would notice if the left coast's ports were shut down for any length of time...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Now listen all you no-hopers. On the days when you said "Not today thank you" to the two (always two) young lads (always lads) on bikes who came to your door to tell you about Joseph Baby, you missed something.

    Arise my fellow athiests! Pack your house with grub! Don't let the last ones standing be a bunch of tablet worshipping, bigamist geneologists!


    Being a good Wellingtonian, I sighed a sigh of relief the other week when a GNSer told us that the timeline to the next Wgtn BIGGIE is now a wee bit further into the distance. But I do have our frozen water in the bottom of the freezer. (Good to drink when it melts but even better, it will keep the freezer frozen for longer). I have my box of Watties spag cans. Bags of pasta and the BBQ now has a BIG LNG bottle. The kids (grown up now but) knew that if contact was lost we would try and make our way home. Walk if we had too.

    But the point is, we discussed it amongst ourselves and I think that is worth 5 of the 3 days minimum they all tell us we have to tide outselves over.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

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