With support from the USGS, a delegation of eight individuals (representing geologic, engineering, and emergency management disciplines) visited Tennessee from New Zealand on an international, information sharing mission this October. As part of their visit, the group met with local and regional officials to share lessons learned since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and aftershocks. Those earthquakes, including a damaging M6.3 event, have had a major impact on New Zealand’s population, economy, and infrastructure. The New Zealand group joined officials from CUSEC, the Center for Earthquake Research & Information, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and the USGS over several days to:
– Participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Earthquake Drill
– Provide keynote presentations at an earthquake-focused public forum
– Discuss advanced urban search and rescue practices with the Tennessee Task Force One
– Join a CUSEC-led mitigation field trip to learn more about existing seismic risk and steps that have been taken to reduce the risk
Also, the Center for Earthquake Research & Information arranged an informal “workshop” between the New Zealanders and Memphis Heritage. At the workshop, the main topic of discussion was earthquake implications for older and historic buildings. New Zealand, like many communities in the central U.S., has a large number of old, unenforced masonry that are built without seismic considerations and subsequently heavily damaged during the Christchurch earthquakes. The consensus of the workshop was that there is much work to be done to protect historic structures from disaster; including earthquakes.
CUSEC would like to thank our New Zealand friends for the time spent with us to provide their insight as we advance our plans to strengthen community resiliency toward disasters. We would also like to thank the USGS, who provided travel and logistical support to make this opportunity possible.