NZ – cited as model of earthquake response and recovery

NZ sets disaster preparedness example, says Clark, NZ Herald, Sept. 16.

Former N.Z. Prime Minister, Helen Clark, praises the national preparedness efforts with minimizing the deaths and injuries in the recent Christchurch/Canterbury Earthquake, especially true when compared with the outcome of the Haiti earthquake of the same magnitude. Ms Clark also commented on the positive benefit of beginning recovery planning quickly.  The ready availability of insurance money for reconstruction is an important feature of the N.Z. system.

If you put in place the systems which anticipate what disaster might strike, then you can act to thwart the worst effects. She was critical of how international aid funding was targeted after large natural disasters like the Haiti quake or the recent Pakistan floods.   While the international community generally provided immediate humanitarian relief, early recovery schemes to help people rebuild were “the least funded part of any international appeal for help.

I think there is an immediate need for a comparative study of recovery in N.Z. and the U.S. , and I plan to engage in one. Please contact me if you are planning to research this topic.

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.