March 30, 2011

High rises, quakes or tsunami; Wellington here we come...

I am heading north to Wellington this week for a meeting ... will be strange to leave Quakechurch, and I would rather not be heading to another high risk quake zone right now.... but the three of us from here made the decision to transfer the meeting from our usual high rise location to a lower single level on The Terrace. It is still surrounded by high rises that could fall on us, but it avoids our curent phobia about lifts and stairs... shared by many other people here.

Forsyth Barr: One of the CBD buildings where the the stairs collapsed during the earthquake...
Employment lawyer Tim McGinn said he would never work in his level 14 office in Clarendon Tower again, even if it was cleared for use.
"Everyone is a bit gun-shy about large concrete structures. If I was offered something that was modern and about three or four storeys, I think I could cope with it," he said.
Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns said it was important people were able to overcome their fears and go back into big office blocks.
"Lower-rise options are certainly starting to come into vogue because of the concerns people hold. We need to take account of those fears," he said.
Cities like Tokyo showed skyline and faultline could exist together and most Christchurch structures had stood up well, he said. "If people came out of a multi-storey building, then the buildings have done what they are designed to do."
The continued closure of the central city and loss of confidence in its buildings could not be allowed to turn Christchurch into "a collection of suburbs".
"We need to use and retain every viable building we've got to restore the economic heart of the city, and that means getting people back in there as soon as possible," he said.
There is a good blog page here about someone trapped in that building

This morning, I was reading about the tsunami risk to Wellington. Not just from earthquakes but from underwater landslides.

They are advising people to run up the nearest high rise if they experience an earthquake that makes it hard for them to stand up. Not head for the hills, just run up stairs.
A tsunami generated by an earthquake in Cook Strait could sweep kilometres inland within three or four minutes, putting the lives of up to 170,000 Wellington residents at risk.
There would be no time for any warnings and people need to think now about how they can get to higher ground immediately after a strong quake, says Wellington Region Emergency Management officer Rian van Schalkwyk.
"The magnitude of that quake and tsunami in Japan is the sort of thing we can expect here. The moment there is a big local quake that is so strong that you can't stand upright, you need to get to higher ground or up in a building as quickly as possible. There is no time to hop in a car to drive away – just go up as quickly as possible.
So now we are going to be in a single storey bilding in the tsunami zone. In the event of an earthquake, we are to run next door and climb the high rise we are trying so desperately to avoid....

No wonder we are having trouble coping.

Check out your own part of the world and the risk of rising seawater using this map

Here is the a screenshot from the Christchurch part - but it does the whole world.


  1. Fiona. I've never liked high rise buildings. Not that that ever had anything to do with earthquakes nor a fear of heights it's just something I've never been comfortable with. So now that awareness is so heightened and even though I didn't experience the Christchurch quake I'm beginning to think that very high-rise in quake zones is just plain daft.

  2. We, in Oregon, are reminded by both the Christchurch quake and the one in Japan of what we will face one day with our own mega-quake. I read your posts with great interest to try and wrap my mind around it. I'm so glad you are giving a down-to-earth, this-is-what-it-is perspective to such a frightening event.


Comments welcome....always love to hear what you think!


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