Monday, August 30, 2010

Dave's Landslide Blog

I've just been forwarded the link to a blog all about landslides from around the world - Dave's Landslide Blog - Lots of interesting video footage and images of rockfalls, and news links, links to research papers etc.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This post is brought to you by the letters BGAN

Ah, the wonders of modern technology!

This post is made possible by our new BGAN satellite unit. With this we are no longer completely reliant on phone lines, or mobile phone networks for our connection to the internet. In fact, with the ability for the unit and laptops to run on battery power, and the unit providing its own wireless network, we can function for a couple of hours at least with no cables at all! We can also use it as a satellite phone.

With the new Emergency Management Information System being web based, having a back-up connection to the internet for when the phone lines go down is quite important, and the BGAN unit is just the ticket.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Felt that one!

Nice earthquake this morning. I was at a meeting in the Hutt Valley Emergency Management Office, when some of us felt it. There were a few questions as to whether someone had been shaking the table or not, but we knew that if it had been an earthquake, our phones would soon beep to tell us that Geonet had recorded something - and sure enough...

The following earthquake has been recorded by GNS:

Local time (NZST): 10:17 AM on Wednesday 25 August 2010
Latitude, Longitude: 40.14S, 174.87E
NZ Map Grid (E, N): 2670000, 6117000
NZ Trans Merc (E, N): 1760000, 5556000
Location: 30 km south-west of Whanganui
Focal depth: 30
Magnitude: 5.1
Web page:
Web service:

Strongly felt in Whanganui.

Did you feel it here in Porirua? If so, don't forget to fill in a felt report.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Emergency planning advice for the deaf

From the Ministry

Civil Defence Minister John Carter has today launched a DVD designed to give potentially life-saving advice on emergency planning to the deaf and hearing impaired.

"Deaf Aotearoa has collaborated with the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management to produce this valuable resource," Mr Carter said.

It is estimated that about 10 percent of New Zealand's population have hearing difficulties of some degree. Information is provided in New Zealand Sign Language and is also captioned.

"Public education is essential to ensure New Zealand is resilient to the number of natural hazards we are vulnerable to including earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic activity and weather related emergencies," Mr Carter said.

Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia said she welcomed the initiative and that it was important to include everyone in safety messages, including people with disabilities.

"This DVD encourages those who are deaf or have significant hearing impairment to plan ahead for their specific requirements in an emergency. It focuses on developing an emergency plan with friends, family and neighbours," Mrs Turia said.

"It also provides valuable advice to those who may be caring for someone with a hearing impairment, encouraging them to plan ahead and build a support network to help in an emergency."

"We all need to be prepared and know what to do when disaster strikes," Mr Carter said.

"The message is simple. All individuals and communities have a responsibility to look after themselves and their loved ones for at least three days, possibly more, until help can get to them.

"This resource is part of a wider public education programme that includes the Get Ready Get Thru website, radio and television advertising, brochures and the What's the Plan Stan? education resource for primary schools.

"The best way to get through an emergency event is to be prepared, and I can't stress that enough."

A good way for everyone to get prepared is to use our region's fabulous planning guide - called "It's Easy - Get Prepared for an Emergency" - which you can download here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Massive traffic jam through Porirua & Tawa

A truck & trailer unit rolled just south of Porirua at about 5:45 this morning, blocking all the southbound lanes of State Highway 1. It was carrying propylene gas and mail. Traffic is being diverted through Porirua and Tawa, and is moving very sloooooowly. Everyone is trying to find another way in to Wellington, and choking up all the alternative routes as well.

It may take until midday to clear it all.

There will be quite a number of businesses with staff stuck in that mess - I know there's a good number of our council staff who haven't made it to the office yet. It took one an hour and a half just to get to Porirua CBD from Pukerua Bay! Will your business be opening on time today? There's a few businesses under the Canopies that haven't opened their doors yet.

EDIT: 10:15 - The unit has finally been righted, but the Fire Service still has the dangerous goods which were onboard to deal with.

EDIT: 13:15 - The vehicle has been removed, but State Highway 1 is expected to remain closed until 3pm.

EDIT: 14:25 - State Highway 1 is now open in both directions, though there'll still be a bit of a backlog of traffic to clear.

Stuff article about the aftermath -

Monday, August 16, 2010

We got off lightly

Porirua didn't fare too badly on Friday night, just some surface flooding that I'm aware of - certainly nothing compared to Whakatane and the Bay of Plenty - flooding managed to punch a hole in a stopbank, forcing people from their homes.

On Wednedsay, while a good chunk of the emergency managers from around the country were at the Australasian Hazards Management Conference at Te Papa, there was apparently an earthquake measuring 3.1 centred 10km northwest of Wellington - and I don't think a single one of us felt it.

Mind you, if it were a big one, Te Papa is a pretty good place to be, with its fancy rubber foundation thingies (technical term...) - just have to head up a floor or so to stay out of the way of any tsunami sloshing round the harbour.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Still soggy

The rain continues to fall, causing some minor surface flooding around the place:
Paremata Rd by Postgate Dr
Grays Rd
Mana Esplanade by the Paremata Bridge, and on the bridge itself
SH1 southbound between Paremata roundabout and Whitford Brown Ave
and that's just the stuff I've seen personally.

The rain is expected to continue for a few more hours yet, and we have a rising tide which is higher than usual. Keep an eye out, and drive to the conditions. Call in any problems to our 24hr call centre - 237-5089 - unless it's something urgent or life-threatening, in which case you should call 111.

Soggy Friday night

Posting this from a terminal at Te Papa, as I'm attending the last day of workshops associated with the 4th Australasian Hazards Management Conference (review of that coming soon).

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for heavy rain in the Tararuas. The wind direction means that some of that will end up dumping into the catchment that causes Greys Rd to flood, so please take care when driving through that area tonight, and report any surface flooding or slips that you come across - ph 237-5089 24hr.

There's also a Severe Weather Watch for possible severe gales today, so hold on to your hats.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

National Advisory - Tsunami - No Threat to NZ

National Advisory: Tsunami - No Threat to New Zealand

No: 01

Issued at 18:10 NZST hours on 10/8/10

Issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM).

An earthquake has occurred with these parameters:

Origin time:

0524Z 10 AUG 2010

NZ time:

17:24 NZST 10 AUG 2010


17.5 SOUTH 168.0 EAST


21 KM





The above magnitude is provisional and may be increased or decreased as more seismic data becomes available.


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a Tsunami Information Bulletin in response to the above earthquake.

Only messages issued by MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand.

MCDEM has assessed the information with the assistance of scientific advisors. Based on current information, the initial assessment is that the earthquake is unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will pose a threat to New Zealand.

This advisory has been issued to all local civil defence authorities, emergency services, other agencies and media.

This will be the final message via the national warning system for this event unless the event parameters change significantly.

EDIT: And here's the Stuff article on it - apparently a small 22cm tsunami recorded in Port Vila -

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yup, definitely swine flu...

Media release from the Wairarapa District Health Board confirming their swine flu outbreak.

The outbreak of illness at five Wairarapa Schools is likely to be H1N1 influenza, after some swabs taken from children’s throats earlier this week have returned positive.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Annette Nesdale said, “H1N1 is the predominant strain of flu in New Zealand this winter, so this result is not a surprise. These are the first confirmed cases in the Wairarapa this winter but it’s highly likely that other influenza-type illnesses are also this strain.” Dr Nesdale also said that now the prevalent strain has been confirmed, in most instances swabbing was no longer required, except in the hospital setting if patients had developed complications.

The outbreak was first notified to Public Health last Friday, and the team quickly swung into action. Information on influenza has been sent to all schools across the district to send home to parents. Parents are being advised to keep children home until they have been symptom free for 48 hours. The illness does not always present with coughs and sneezes, some children are experiencing stomach upsets with nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Information is now being sent to aged residential care facilities, though older people appear slightly less at risk than usual because the current strain is similar to the outbreak in 1957.

“Vaccination still provides the best protection and is very important for people who have other medical conditions,” said Dr Nesdale. “Immunity is not established for 10-14 days, though, so it’s possible to still get the flu during that time.” She advised people to contact their GP to inquire about vaccination to protect against influenza if they had not already been vaccinated.

Masterton Medical has reported more than 60 cases a day for the last three days of influenza-type illnesses. Influenza is highly infectious and easily passed to other people through coughing and sneezing. For this reason, people are being advised to phone Healthline for advice and avoid doctor’s waiting rooms where possible.

A media campaign is underway to help people understand how to look after themselves and others, and when to seek medical help.

Important ways of stopping the spread of illness are staying home if unwell, covering coughs and regular hand washing.

“If you are concerned or are getting worse or if you have an underlying medical condition such asthma you should contact your medical centre, as antiviral medicines will help, but need to be started early,” said Practice Nurse Helen Kjestrup.

Pregnant woman are also at higher risk of complications from influenza.

If you need more information phone Healthline 0800 611 116 or go to the Ministry of Health website on

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Swine flu hits schools hard

Swine flu seems to have erupted on to the scene again, with outbreaks in schools in both the North & South Islands. More than 300 pupils were absent from Wairarapa schools this week, with a highly infectious virus, presumed to be swine flu. There was a confirmed outbreak infecting at least 50 pupils from Seddon School, near Blenheim, last week.

It'll be interesting to see how long it will be before we are getting similar outbreaks in Porirua schools.

I can't stress the importance of hygiene enough, and if your kids are sick, please keep them at home.

From the Ministry of Health

Know how to protect yourself and your family

For some people influenza can be a very serious illness. The basic measures to protect yourself and others remain the same, but are even more important as we see more flu circulating in the community. These include:
  • get your seasonal influenza immunisation, which includes protection against swine flu
  • know the symptoms of influenza, which can include a high fever, headache, cough, sore throat, tiredness and generally aching all over
  • phone for medical advice quickly (GP or Healthline) if you have influenza-like symptoms, including consideration of whether you need antiviral medicine treatment. Antiviral medication may lessen the severity and length of your illness, but are best started within the first 48 hours. Antiviral treatment is currently available free of charge on prescription.
  • seeking early medical advice is especially important for women who are pregnant, severely overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease and other conditions including autoimmune diseases
  • wash and dry hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick.

Phone early for advice

If you or your family are ill and you are concerned, or if your condition worsens, get health advice by calling your GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Floods, fires, fuel, flus & flares

Plenty going on on the disaster front world-wide - floods in Pakistan killing over a thousand people, affecting a million more, wildfires in Greece & Russia, BP may finally start plugging the leaking Gulf oil well, and more locally, an outbreak of swine flu at Seddon School in the South Island had almost half of the school away sick last week, and finally a couple of solar flares are headed our way today, but thankfully they don't seem to be big enough to do much more than put on a stunning display of the Aurora Australis if you happen to live far enough south. Massive solar flares have the potential to knock out satellites & communications and power grids.

I presume you all survived Sunday's weather all right. I saw the weather warnings for the wind and rain, but wasn't anywhere near a computer to be able to post about them as I was on holiday - certainly made the ferry crossing interesting!