Engineers and earthquakes: the first 24hrs and beyond

Carl Devereux & John O'Hagan | 27 February 2019 | 24:43


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Show notes

In February 2011, New Zealand experienced devastating earthquakes in the Canterbury region.

Carl Devereux, former New Zealand Regional Director at Aurecon and one of the first responders to the earthquakes, chats with fellow responder John O’Hagan.

What’s the role of the engineer in emergency response and disaster recovery? In this episode of Engineering Reimagined, we talk about the critical contribution that engineers make following an earthquake, from the initial emergency response, to the recovery phase and onto the rebuild of a city.

With earthquake prone cities across the world becoming more densely populated, what lessons can be learnt from the experiences of those involved in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes?

While public safety was paramount, John and Carl discuss the importance of business continuity for the local economy. “One of the very early tasks that we did in that first couple of weeks was escorting business owners back into the premises to get key items that they required to carry on,” said John.

Audio of ABC Sports television coverage of game 3 of the 1989 world series baseball earthquake recording provided under license by ©ABC Sports

Meet our guest and host

Learn more about John O’Hagan and Carl Devereux.

Aurecon's Carl Devereux

Carl Devereux

Former New Zealand Regional Director at Aurecon

"The simple act of allowing people temporary access into their home or to their work place to recover critical items, was actually so important to the recovery."

Being an active member of the New Zealand Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR), Carl had been involved in the emergency response and recovery operations after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, working with agencies such as Civil Defence and the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). He was also a mentor to a number of emerging professionals within Aurecon and responsible for the highly successful cadet partnership with Ngāi Tahu.

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John O'Hagan

John O’Hagan

General Manager for Development, Otakaro Ltd

"I was able to come to this realisation fairly quickly that engineers were part of a cog in a very big machine, but we're an extremely important cog in that machine."

As the General Manager for Development at Otakaro Ltd, John is leading a team which is responsible for the delivery of the Government-led Anchor Projects after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. He has been involved in the emergency response and earthquake recovery from the outset. John joined the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) as one of its lead engineers in the Significant Buildings Group, overseeing the assessment and demolition of major buildings. He is a chartered professional structural engineer with extensive experience in large and complex project delivery.

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