Awakening

September 12, 2014

It’s September 12th here in New Zealand, but still the 11th in the USA where they are remembering the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Brian Andreas wrote this to honour and mark the tragedy.

awakening StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

Awakening – ©2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

There were so many deaths then and so many since in all corners of the world which reinforce the need for and wonder of arms grown strong with love.

 


Three years on

February 22, 2014

Those of us who weren’t in Christchurch at 12:51pm on February 22nd, 2011 will probably always recall where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the earthquake.

Those who were in the city or close to it will never forget.

This post is to remember the ones who died and were injured;  the ones who lost family and friends, homes and work places;  those who lives were literally and figuratively turned upside down and those who are still dealing with the physical, financial and emotional problems caused by the quake and its aftermath.

It is to acknowledge those who helped during the crisis and those who are dealing with ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances.

It is also to celebrate the people who are working so hard, under still trying conditions, to rebuild the city.

The Press lists commemorative events.

 


Fewer than half preprared

February 14, 2014

Only 22% of New Zealanders believe they have the basic essentials to get through a natural disaster and only 17 % had better than basic preparations.

Figures from the 2012 New Zealand General Social Survey show the proportion of people with basic preparations (a three-day supply of food and water, and a household emergency plan) is up from 17 percent in 2010.

“Unsurprisingly, the region with the highest level of basic preparation was Canterbury – 40 percent had basic preparations, up from 28 percent in 2010,” General Social Survey manager Philip Walker said.

“Marlborough (36 percent) and Hawke’s Bay (30 percent) also had high proportions of people who were basically prepared.”

In Wellington, 29 percent of people were prepared while around one-quarter of people in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne region had basic preparations.

“The regions with the lowest rates for basic preparation in 2012 were Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Otago, and Southland. They all had less than one-fifth of people prepared,” Mr Walker said.

Nationally, 17 percent of people had better-than-basic preparations for a natural disaster – they also had a torch, portable radio, spare batteries, first aid kit, and essential medicines, on top of a three-day supply of food and water and a household emergency plan. This figure was up from 12 percent in 2010.

Approximately one-third of New Zealand households had an emergency plan in 2012. This has increased steadily from approximately one-quarter of households in 2008. . .

It’s rare that neither my farmer nor I is in town more than once a week but we could easily get by for more than that if we had to. We’ve got enough ponds and streams for water and a fire on which to boil it to ensure it’s potable and we always have torches, spare batteries and a first aid kit.

The portable radio is a bit too portable and tends to wander but it’s generally not too far from home. If all else failed we’d be able to use a radio in a car, ute or tractor to catch up on emergency broadcasts.

That fewer than 40% of people have at least basic preparations for an emergency could be a reflection on the way they live these days – fewer have vegetable gardens and many shop for what they need day by day.

But how hard is it to have basic or better than basic preparations?

If you’re very poor it would be difficult to have little if any more than you require for immediate needs.

But is it asking too much for other people to have enough spare to be self-sufficient for three days?


Big numbers but each an individual

November 13, 2013

At least 10,000 people have died and many more have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines:

Four million people are thought to have been affected by the massive storm and 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the city of Tacloban in the province of Leyte alone after huge waves swept away coastal villages on Friday.

A United Nations humanitarian official described the scale of damage in the Philippines caused by Haiyan as massive and unprecedented. John Ging said 660,000 people fled their homes because of the storm and the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims.

Devastated communities without food, water and medicines are showing desperation after one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded flattened entire towns and left countless bodies scattered across wastelands.

People in Tacloban woke up to just what they didn’t need on Tuesday – driving rain. With provisions running low, everyone says that food is their main concern.

A BBC correspondent said he saw families straining filthy water through T-shirts to try and remove the dirt and there is a real risk of diseases like dysentery spreading quickly.  . . .

It is difficult to grasp the extent of the devastation, the lives lost, many more still at risk, homes destroyed, schools trashed, businesses ruined . . .

With numbers as big as these it is important to remember that each is an individual and that, just as we are seeing in Christchurch, the end of the storm won’t be the end of the problems.

Parliament began yesterday by offering messages of support to the victims.

Before question time in the House this afternoon, Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe both offered their condolences following the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines this week.

“Images we are seeing out of the affected areas are deeply harrowing and I know that all New Zealanders will be moved by them,” Mr Key said.

New Zealand had learned firsthand from the Canterbury earthquakes no country has to face a destructive natural disaster alone, he said.

“The international community always stands ready to help.” . . .

Unfortunately one MP let politics get in the way of the condolences.

In contrast, Dr Norman used his time to read a speech from the head of the Philippines’ delegation to the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

His speech drew audible groans from the MPs and a number of negative tweets from politicians, including National MP Tau Henare and Labour MP Shane Jones.

After a point of order from co-leader Metiria Turei, Speaker David Carter said Mr Norman had the right to make a speech, “but it would be better if it was delivered without a political message”. . .

This was the wrong time and place for such a message.


State of emergency declared in NSW

October 21, 2013

We spent a couple of days in rural Victoria last week.

A strong, not wind was blowing, it felt like a nor wester at home, but the fire danger was low. Pastures were green and lush with spring growth and dams were full.

victoria

 

But blackened trees showed where bush fires had raged and our hosts told us of days spent fire fighting as their farms and homes were threatened.

They were counting their blessings as they listened to news of fires further north.

A week later New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell has declared a state of emergency across the whole state as bush fires worsen.

Mass forced evacuations affecting tens of thousands of people are possible as hotter and drier than expected conditions combine with huge fire fronts already burning.

”This is not out of the realms of possibility,” NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. ”We are expecting the potential for the series of these fires to come together, to extend right down Bells Line of Road.

”They have the very real potential to go right out to the eastern end of the Hawkesbury, right down into the north-west area of Sydney including Richmond. . .

The Sydney Morning Herald has live updates.


Freedom Tower

September 11, 2013

It’s still September 10th in the USA but it’s the 11th (11.9 to us but 9.11 to them) here.

I woke up that morning to hear my farmer saying “they’ve crashed” and spent the next few hours checking in to the live broadcasts as the horror unfolded.

Each time I travel I’m reminded of that day and how it changed the way we do things.

But twelve years on the focus is on the Freedom Tower which is  nearing completion.

Soaring above the city at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center will be America’s tallest building – and an indelible New York landmark. Designed by David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the 2.6-million-square-foot building will include office space, an observation deck, world-class restaurants, and broadcast and antennae facilities.

Begun by Silverstein Properties in April 2006 and taken over by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, construction has accelerated in the last year.   . .

 

 


Govt funding Pike river re-entry plan

September 3, 2013

Families of the men who died in the Pyke River mine have been given some hope that the bodies will be recovered.

The Government has approved conditional funding of a staged plan to re-enter and explore the main tunnel leading up to the rock fall at the Pike River Coal Mine, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has announced.

The decision follows approval in principle of the re-entry plan risk assessment by the Solid Energy Board.

Mr Bridges said the Government will fund the estimated cost of the plan, at $7.2 million.

“Our criteria are that any re-entry into the tunnel up to the rock fall is safe, technically feasible and financially credible. Safety is paramount, and the High Hazards Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has reviewed the plan and is comfortable with it,” said Mr Bridges.

“This is a highly complex and technical operation and it will be carefully managed in stages, with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage. Ensuring the safety of workers is an absolute bottom line for the Government and Solid Energy.”

Mr Bridges said the scope of the operation did not include entry into the main mine workings which is blocked by the rock fall. 

“The Government cannot comment or speculate about re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved,” Mr Bridges said. 

Some of the families might have accepted that body recovery is unlikely, others haven’t and that will be an obstacle in the grieving process.

This is a first step which will give families hope but it gives no certainty.

Awful as the waiting and wondering must be for the relatives and friends of the men who died, the safety and lives of rescuers must take precedence over the recovery of bodies.


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