Saturday, April 2, 2011

What we're doing for Earthquake preparedness

February we were rocked by Christchurch, in March, Japan. It’s really hammering home the ‘be prepared’ motto of the scouts.

We are getting enquiries from people looking for safe houses due to concerns about earthquakes.

What have we done to be prepared? We have prepared a basic survival kit at the office of course (and our homes), but we also need to think of our tenants. In emergencies like these, tenants will have issues with properties and need assistance, and we will be the front line for dealing with it. Unfortunately, we are likely to be affected by the event too, and may not be able to travel to work until it is safe.

So, we’ve devised a plan that will enable us to help from wherever we can get electricity, phone coverage, and internet.

We are switching the software package we use to one that can be run from ‘the cloud’ (which is a fancy name for ‘on the internet’) should we need to operate away from the office. We have some internet-based phone lines to keep the lines open should landlines go down, and cell phones of course.

We are advising tenants and owners that any emergency updates can be found on our Facebook page. This will enable tenants and owners to report on their status and that of their property, and is an open forum to create a helping network. We have a plan to check properties for safety, and track tenants who have disappeared to minimise confusion at such a difficult time.

We are advising owners to ‘quake safe’ their properties to minimise damage. Chimneys falling have been a significant hazard during quakes. Hot water cylinders ‘walking’ has been another.

We’re also offering help to those in Christchurch. We’ve publicised available properties for those affected by the quake and wanting to get out of Christchurch. We’ve offered breaks away for the property managers down there, and to relieve some strain of the work they need to do. Many have offices and staff severely affected.

Are we over reacting? A recent visit to Plimmers Ark in the CBD reminded me that a magnitude 8.2 quake struck Wellington in 1855, causing significant changes to the landscape (ever wonder why the ‘Basin Reserve’ is called that? It was going to be a shipping basin prior to the quake raising the land at least 2m in the CBD, changing plans to a cricket ground instead. The damage to brick structures explains why the old Government Buildings, opened in 1876, was made of wood, albeit in the style of stone. The motorway to Petone would never have been built had the land not emerged from the sea – it used to be impassable at high tide). If it happened before, it could happen again. Are your properties taken care of by people who care what happens to them and your tenants should the worst happen?

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