Crux' Lauren Pattemore: 'taking action is never as daunting once you start'

by Lauren Pattemore - Nov 21, 2023

My knowledge of the Alpine Fault was limited before interviewing community response groups, emergency advisors, and Christchurch survivors for Crux’s earthquake campaign but, since then, I’ve levelled up.

One of the enjoyable things about my job – I’m always learning and speaking to lots of different people.

After speaking with Christchurch survivor Irene Bowman-Watkins and hearing her list of earthquake items, I realised I already have some of the ingredients needed for an emergency kit.

I've got a four-litre container of water in my car (my dad instructed me it’s good practice to always keep one there), and this bottle now has a mate – another three-litre unopened bottle that I bought in the wake of the cryptosporidium outbreak.

I’ve curated some basic camping supplies during my time in Queenstown: a two-man tent, a sleeping bag, a butane stove, four spare gas cans and camping utensils. And a first aid kit too.

Although not an essential item, Irenie also mentioned that having some entertainment is a good idea. So, tick - I have about 20 unread books.

Taking action is never as daunting once you start – or, in this instance, realising you’ve already started. But, evidently, there's still food supplies to get and an emergency stash of cash to withdraw. 

I think my apathy on getting prepared came from a lack of information and knowledge of earthquakes; they were a real enigma for me before moving to New Zealand five years ago. I have mates over in Australia, who ask me with curiosity, "what's an earthquake like?", and after experiencing a few minor shakes while living in the North Island, I say, "it's like the ground sneezes".

But AF8 won't be like that. Growing up across the ditch in Australia, I was more likely to have a snake eat my guinea pig (true story) than to ever experience an earthquake, but seeing the Christchurch earthquakes on the news as a kid left an indelible impression on me.

Two pieces I didn’t put together until this campaign started: AF8 will be much larger than the carnage I saw on the TV as a kid - it will be at least magnitude 8, while Christchurch’s 2011 quake was 6.3. 

One more parting thought to share: our local community response groups work really hard. 

Through the campaign I’ve had the genuine pleasure of speaking to the volunteers from the groups in Arrowtown, Wānaka, Hāwea, and Kelvin Heights who will be manning the communications for their local area in the event of the big quake.

These people give their time to getting ready, they're fundraising and writing grants for equipment, and they're coming up with innovative ideas to get around the problems of no power, internet and cell-reception. They're real troopers. 

But the responsibility of feeding everyone or getting emergency supplies in the event of the big quake is not their responsibility. 

There's these champions out here in the community preparing for the big quake and, if they can do that, it'd be pretty selfish of me not to get myself together.

I’ve absently thought about getting emergency food supplies before but, living in Queenstown, and in this time of high inflation, my grocery bill is already a lot higher than I’d like it to be. The thought of spending more money on food for an emergency supply was unappealing. 

But it's selfish not to prepare and to expect someone else to do it for you, and it's scary to think I couldn't be self-sufficient in an emergency. Something I've heard a lot in the past week of interviews is that preparedness starts at home - there's a lot of responsibility on us to prepare ourselves.  

The Alpine Fault will impact a lot of the South Island - the West Coast will be hit much harder than us, there will be tourists to feed and try to get back home, and it will be all hands on deck for the emergency crew. None of my excuses really hold up against this. 

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