The massive recovery operation continues after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Christchurch at 4.36am on Saturday 4 September, leaving a damage bill of NZ$4billion and physically injuring a few people.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC) members quickly established an on air net and observed the operational status of the repeater systems, and apart from at least one switching to emergency power all was fine.
AREC Assistant National Director, Geoff Chapman ZL3PX said designated emergency frequencies for on the 80m, 60m and 40m bands, plus 2m band simplex were activated.
The Christchurch AREC Communications Bus ZK9EAC, and Comms Vehicle ZK9EAD operated on all those frequencies. They were deployed for three days in the initial recovery phase of the disaster in conjunction with the military.
AREC also provided communications for the volunteer clean-up teams. The Christchurch City Civil Defence permanent radio communication systems were unaffected. AREC members have been required as radio operators. A total of eight radio amateurs are known in various support activities in Christchurch.
The AREC North Canterbury Section provided operators from day one for the Civil Defence Emergency Managment Communications at various locations including Waimak EOC (Rangiora), Kaiapoi Welfare Centre, and Pines-Kairaki Welfare Centre (Pines Beach Hall).
Geoff ZL3PX said this support provided by radio amateurs is continuing with over 235 duty hours so far involving about a dozen operators.
Aftershocks are still being felt on an hourly basis and it is wearying to say the least. In the past week there have been 388 seismic shocks recorded ranging from 3 to 5.4 magnitude, with seismologists indicating this activity is showing signs of easing.
National Crisis Management Centre in a Situation Report today listed its priorities as restoration of sewerage services in the worst-affected areas, immediate and long term welfare and housing needs, a growing demand and ongoing need for psychosocial services, business impacts and personal finances, and the need for coordinated, regular communication with the affected communities.
Various specialist resources from throughout New Zealand have been assigned to the earthquake affected areas, such as building inspectors who are determining the safety of damaged homes and commercial buildings.
Authorities believe that most schools should be able to open after being closed for a week. Some road infrastructure remains yet to be repaired. Most power and telephone services were quickly restored.
Shops, pubs and hotels began trading for the first time in a week and Christchurch moves further into recovery mode.
- IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Chairman, Jim Linton VK3PC with support from AREC Assistant National Director Geoff Chapman ZL3PX and others.