NZ Herald: Chris de Freitas – The high cost of being unprepared

Dr Chris de Freitas writes in the New Zealand Herald about the dangers of being unprepared for major natural events.  He talks about emergency management not just as a means of saving lives when events occur, but of planning beforehand in order to minimise loss of life and property.

He also talks of Auckland, and the fact that it is particularly at risk for crisis: it’s on narrow land surrounded by water, with limited land-based access, and a relatively large, and concentrated, population.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“How long would it take to restore Auckland’s Harbour Bridge and at what cost? The interruption to the life of the country’s largest city would be immense.

“Auckland City Civil Defence Emergency Management Local Plan 2005 conservatively lists the chance of infrastructure failure that is unrelated to natural hazards as “likely to exceed” a 10 per cent probability of occurrence in a 50-year period. This Auckland local plan coolly states economic consequences are “inevitable” and that “the flow-on effect on tourism and trade likely to be long term because of the resultant loss of credibility.”

“According to the local plan there is a 49 per cent probability that a tsunami will hit Auckland in a 50-year period. The biggest question in natural hazards research is not if a severe natural event will happen, but when.”