New Zealand Earthquake – resilience of ChristChurch

I recommend the interesting discussion , and useful comments, regarding resilience that is on the Homeland Security Watch blog for Sept. 5 and also Sept. 8th.  Mark Chubb the author of the posting has extensive experience working in NZ.

By way of background, NZ  has a very high risk of earthquake in most parts of the country. (For a listing of the major earthquakes in N.Z. in recent years, go to this site on GeoNet.) The leaders are aware of it and have taken many steps to deal with it, including the creation of  special insurance, run by their  Earthquake Commission. One surprise was that the fault that triggered the recent set of quakes was previously unknown.

One example of the foresight of the NZ government, which I am aware of — in 1995, the Commission was a sponsor of an international conference that dealt with recovery and rebuilding of a major city after an earthquake.  I was privileged to participate in the conference, which was excellent, and a high quality report was issued. The report is titled “Wellington  after the ‘Quake: The Challenge of Rebuilding Cities.” I hope the Commission makes the text available in digital form soon.

New Zealand Earthquake – government-insured residential losses

One of the unique features of the ChristChurch event is that the country acknowledges its high earthquake risk and has mandated insurance for residential structures.  More about this feature follows. Also, it will be interesting to see to what extent  their construction and building inspection standards, zoning, and land use requirements may have contributed to the outcome of no deaths and relatively few injuries.

New Zealand Quake Damage Could Cost $1.4 Billion; WSJ, Sept. 5.

The cost of the damage is still being assessed, with teams working through the central city to check on building soundness. The Earthquake Commission, which covers residential damage on properties insured for natural disasters, said it had received about 2,800 claims for damage to property but was expecting a significant increase in claims over the next couple of days.

Earthquake Commission Chief Executive Ian Simpson said the quake was going to result in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of claims, “but it could be up to a NZ$1 billion” with around 100,000 claims expected to come in over the next three months.

The commission is a government-owned crown entity funded by insurance premiums and pays out the first NZ$100,000 of a claim. The fund currently has around NZ$5.6 billion and is backed by reinsurance from overseas groups and a government guarantee. Mr. Simpson said this will be the single biggest claim on the fund since it was established in the 1940s.