Earth dam researcher wins 2019 Ivan Skinner AwardThursday, April 4, 2019Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett has been awarded the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by EQC and NZSEE

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett has been awarded the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by the Earthquake Commission and New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering for excellence in earthquake engineering research.

The award was presented at the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering’s annual conference today and recognises Dr Crawford-Flett’s work on dam engineering, in particular the performance of New Zealand embankment dams in regard to seismic events.

EQC Director Resilience, Dr Hugh Cowan said that Dr Crawford-Flett has made an excellent contribution to earthquake engineering knowledge and she works in an area with considerable potential for further advances.

“Kaley’s work is highly collaborative and strengthened already unique linkages between researchers and industry in a field where few others were practicing.

“New Zealand presented particular challenges for embankment dam management that were not necessarily understood internationally. This included the variability of soil types and the highly tectonic environment in which the dams are located.

“Earth or rockfill dams accounted for at least 75 per cent of all dams in New Zealand. Most of these embankment structures were designed at least 40 years ago before the evolution of current engineering design standards.

“This Award will allow Kaley to broaden her world leading research and allow her to put time into writing, publishing and presenting her work internationally.”

The Ivan Skinner Award is made each year in support of research that helps reduce the impact of earthquakes on people and property.

Dr Crawford-Flett works as a geotechnical researcher at the University of Canterbury Quake Centre, where she leads academic and industry research on the seismic behaviour of earthfill dam materials.  

She is also a MBIE-appointed member of the Technical Working Group for proposed New Zealand Dam Safety regulation and is a reviewer for several academic journals. Her unique combination of skills and applied knowledge make her a valuable addition to NZ’s research community.  

Photo caption: Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett (on left of photo) being presented with the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by EQC Commissioner Dr Erica Seville

Dr Crawford-Flett

Dr Crawford-Flett has worked for the University of Canterbury Quake Centre since 2014 where she is a geotechnical researcher and project coordinator.

Kaley leads academic and industry research on the seismic behaviour of earthfill dam materials and has secured the involvement of several of New Zealand’s large asset owners in guiding that work. 

Kaley’s research has included the design of innovative large-scale laboratory equipment for simulated-seismic hydromechanical testing of real dam soils.

Kaley is an elected member of the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD) management committee.  She also serves as a reviewer for various academic journals including Geotechnique Letters, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, and ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering.

The Ivan Skinner Award

The annual $10,000 Ivan Skinner award is sponsored by EQC and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) to promote research that reduces the impacts of earthquakes on New Zealand communities.

The award commemorates Dr Ivan Skinner who conceived the idea of ‘base isolation’ to protect buildings and bridges during earthquakes.

Ivan is best remembered for his work at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research during the 1960s. From 1994-2005, he was EQC’s Research Director. Ivan was a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a Fellow of NZSEE, and he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 1990.

The award is open to:

  • A New Zealand earthquake engineering researcher who has already demonstrated high promise with early achievements, or
  • An undergraduate student or individual holding other relevant qualifications, who shows exceptional promise in contributing to the field of earthquake engineering research, or
  • Someone employed in a role in which earthquake engineering research is relevant and undertaken.

In addition, pioneering or innovative research based on unusual combinations of knowledge and skills is given favourable consideration.

EQC Media Contact: David Miller, 027 406 3476, media@eqc.govt.nz

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​What would you do if you knew an earthquake was coming?Monday, April 1, 2019New Zealanders are being asked to take part in a survey on what they would do if they had prior warning of a strong earthquake

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

New Zealanders are being asked to take part in a survey on what they would do if they had prior warning that a strong earthquake was approaching and what type of early warning system best suit their community.

The survey is part of a research project which is being funded by the Earthquake Commission and led by Dr Julia Becker who is based at Massey University in Wellington. The research team also compromises of earthquake scientists, engineers, and other social scientists from GNS Science, Massey University and the University of Auckland.

Dr Becker says that countries like Japan, Mexico and Taiwan have systems that give a warning from seconds to up to two minutes that strong earthquake shaking is about to strike.

“The survey is being carried out to understand how New Zealanders would respond to an early warning about incoming earthquake shaking. We also want to find out how they would want it to work. For instance, what is the minimum strength of shaking would they want to be warned about and how would they like to receive the warning.

“It is important that as many people as possible, from as many places as possible, take part in the survey.”

Dr Becker says that her team have been talking to emergency managers in hospitals, road and rail transport, education and other sectors in New Zealand and overseas to see how they would use an early warning system in their operations. 

“We know for instance in Japan that train drivers slow down and surgeons make patients safe during an operation once they receive a warning.

“The team’s research will indicate what some benefits of an early warning system would be for the community.  There will no doubt be other studies on the economic and engineering aspects before an early warning system is seriously considered.”

EQC’s Director of Resilience Research Dr Hugh Cowan says Dr Becker’s research is unique in that the starting point is to consult with the New Zealand public on what early earthquake warning system would best for them and their community.

“This research is an excellent first step in understanding whether an earthquake early warning system would be useful for New Zealand. When systems such as this are developed, they often start with the engineering side of things whereas this project puts people first. It is about finding out what people think would work for them to shape further design and development.

“As with all EQC funded research, the results will be openly available to all, and there is already a lot of interest internationally in the survey findings,” says Dr Cowan.

How does earthquake early warning work?

Dr Becker says early warning systems can work because earthquakes send out two kinds of waves – P- waves and S-waves.

“It is similar to lightning and thunder. When the electrical discharge happens, you first see the lightning that travels really fast, and you hear the thunder later depending on how far away you are.

“With an earthquake, the P-waves travel very fast and are picked up by sensors first, automatically sending an alert to locations further away warning them to expect strong earthquake shaking.

“The S-waves that cause the shaking and damage travel more slowly, so unless you’re at the centre of the earthquake, you can get a warning of what is coming.”

The Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) Survey for New Zealand is open now at surveymonkey.com/r/EEWNZ and closes at 5pm on 30 April.

This research is funded by EQC, with support from Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, the Strategic Science Investment Fund, the Alpine Fault Magnitude 8 (AF8) initiative and QuakeCoRE. It is also part of the research collaboration between NZ, Japan and the US.

EQC funds $16 million of research each year to support its mission of reducing the impact of natural disasters on people and property.

Contact details:

Julia Becker, GNS Science, j.becker@gns.cri.nz, 027 2849 478

EQC media contact, David Miller, media@eqc.govt.nz, 027 406 3476

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EQC advice to homeowners affected by heavy rainThursday, March 28, 2019The main priority following any storm event is the welfare of your family, neighbours and friends and making sure your homes are secure.

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

Homeowners whose properties have been damaged by the storms that crossed parts of the country this week are encouraged to get in contact with the Earthquake Commission.

Head of Response and Recovery, Robyn Nation, says that although the heavy rain may have unfortunately affected some properties more than others, anyone who has suffered land damage should contact EQC about lodging a claim.

“The West Coast has been hit particularly hard by this storm and other areas of the country could be affected as well. The main priority following any storm event is the welfare of your family, neighbours and friends and making sure that they are safe and your homes are secure.

“The next step is talk to us and our team will be able to help you lodge a claim and explain the support that EQC can provide throughout the claim process. Each claim is individually assessed, and depending on the type and extent of damage, this may involve a geotechnical engineer visiting a property.”

Mrs Nation says that it is likely that New Zealand will experience more storm events as winter approaches and EQC is ready to help all homeowners who are affected either by this storm or any others that follow.

“As we head into winter, residents across the country should check the weather forecasts and make sure that your home is secured and weather tight to reduce the risk of damage occurring.”

“It is important that New Zealanders are prepared, if however if any homeowners suffer damage to their property they should contact EQC as soon as possible. Our team can then work with you to understand your situation and the scope of your damage, and how we can help you with your claim.”

Background Information

EQC covers storm and flood damage to residential land only, with home and contents damage covered by private insurance according to the terms of an individual’s policy. 

EQC coverage of land is limited to land that is within your land holding – and includes:

  • land under your home and outbuildings (e.g., shed or garage)
  • land within eight metres of your home and outbuildings
  • Land under or supporting your main access way, up to 60 metres from your home (not driveway surfacing).

EQC land cover includes:

  • bridges and culverts within the above areas
  • some retaining walls that are necessary to support or protect your home, outbuildings or insured land
  • The removal of debris, such as silt or fallen trees, from the insured land (not replacement of items on the land, such as trees, plants, lawn and driveways).

The timeframe for lodging a claim is up to two years under the recent changes to the Earthquake Commission Act. EQC has more specific and detailed information on what it covers on its website – eqc.govt.nz/storm-damage. Claims can be lodged online at eqc.govt.nz/claims, via email on info@eqc.govt.nz, or by calling 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243). The EQC call centre is open 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays.

EQC Media: David Miller – 027 406 3476, media@eqc.govt.nz

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EQC completes settlements for the Dunedin landslip claims Thursday, March 21, 2019Along with settling the claims, we have provided local residents and the Council with all of our engineering reports and data

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

The Earthquake Commission has settled the Dunedin landslip claims that were lodged by homeowners in St Clair.

Head of Response and Recovery Robyn Nation says that EQC’s team met the homeowners on Tuesday 12 March to discuss the settlements.

“We have worked closely with homeowners and the Dunedin City Council throughout this process to keep them updated on our progress and to explain how the EQC entitlements are calculated.

“Our team has finished all of the assessments, valuations and scope of works for each individual property and the settlements have now been made.”

Mrs Nation says that EQC has cash settled the claims and each homeowner will be responsible for arranging the necessary remediation work to their property.

“Along with settling the claims, we have provided local residents and the Council with all of our engineering reports and data so they can make informed decisions around options for repairing or securing the land. Even though EQC’s work is finished, it is important that we are able to provide all the information and support we can to help the homeowners move forward.”

What does EQC cover for landslips?

With landslips, EQC covers natural disaster damage to residential land with a property boundary, and includes:

  • The land under a home or outbuildings (e.g. garage or sheds);
  • The land within 8 metres of a home or outbuildings;
  • The land under or supporting the main access way, up to 60 metres from a dwelling, but not the driveway surfacing.

EQCover for land damage also extends to the following:

  • Bridges and culverts within the above areas, and
  • Some retaining walls and their support systems necessary for the support or protection of a home or insured land including the main access way within 60 metres of a house.

How much can EQC pay out?

EQCover pays the lesser of either:

  • The cost to repair the damaged land, or
  • The value of the damaged land, or the value of 4,000 square metres, or the value of the minimum-sized building site allowed in the area in which you live – whichever is the lower.

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EQC advice ahead of Cyclone OmaFriday, February 22, 2019Keep a check on the weather forecasts and making sure that your home is secured and weather tight

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

As Cyclone Oma heads towards New Zealand, the Earthquake Commission is prepared to assist homeowners with lodging an EQC claim if the impact is as severe as some are forecasting.

Deputy Chief Executive Operations, Paul Jepson, says whilst it remains unclear exactly which parts of the country could be affected by the cyclone, homeowners should contact EQC and lodge a claim if their property suffers damage.

“Last year a number of storm events, including ex-cyclones Fehi and Gita, caused flooding and landslip damage across different parts of the country, and it is possible that Oma could do the same if it makes landfall here.”

Mr Jepson says that the safety and welfare of family, friends and neighbours comes first in every natural hazard event.

“Our advice is keep a check on the weather forecasts and making sure that your home is secured and weather tight to reduce the risk of damage occurring.”

“It is important that New Zealanders are prepared, if however if any homeowners suffer damage to their property they should contact EQC as soon as possible.  We can then work with you to better understand the situation and how we can help.”

Background Information

EQC covers storm and flood damage to residential land only, with home and contents damage covered by private insurance according to the terms of an individual’s policy. 

EQC coverage of land is limited to land that is within your land holding – and includes:

  • land under your home and outbuildings (e.g., shed or garage)
  • land within eight metres of your home and outbuildings
  • Land under or supporting your main access way, up to 60 metres from your home (not driveway surfacing).

EQC land cover includes:

  • bridges and culverts within the above areas
  • some retaining walls that are necessary to support or protect your home, outbuildings or insured land
  • The removal of debris, such as silt or fallen trees, from the insured land (not replacement of items on the land, such as trees, plants, lawn and driveways).

The timeframe for lodging a claim has been extended for up to two years under the recent changes to the Earthquake Commission Act.

EQC has more specific and detailed information on what it covers on its website – eqc.govt.nz/storm-damage

Claims can be lodged online at eqc.govt.nz/claims, via email on info@eqc.govt.nz, or by calling 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243). The EQC call centre is open 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays.

EQC Media: David Miller, 029 978 6430, dmiller4@eqc.govt.nz

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Update on EQC’s response to Dunedin landslip Friday, February 15, 2019EQC has worked closely with Tonkin & Taylor to finalise and review geotechnical reports

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

Dunedin residents whose properties have been affected by the landslip have been contacted again this week by the Earthquake Commission to update them on the situation regarding their claims.  

Deputy Chief Executive Operations, Paul Jepson, says that EQC has worked closely with Tonkin & Taylor to finalise and review the geotechnical reports.

“Over the past few weeks, our team has been working to get an accurate picture of the damage and the cost of repairing the land. We have carried out a very thorough assessment of the geotechnical data that T&T have provided to us to enable us to determine the settlement for each homeowner.”

Mr Jepson says that EQC has been in contact with the homeowners to say that it expects the engineering report to be available to them next week and to provide a timeline for when they can expect to receive their EQC payment.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we will have our valuations completed and  finalised the settlements for each homeowner. We are aiming to provide these to homeowners by the first week in March.”

Mr Jepson says that EQC is also keeping the Dunedin City Council informed of its progress in managing the claims that it has received. 

“We are working with the Dunedin City Council so they can make an informed decision on whether the slip damage still poses a risk to homeowners and whether the houses are safe to occupy. This is a separate process from EQC’s assessments and homeowners who have been evacuated from their homes due to safety concerns should discuss this issue with the Council.

“We will continue to talk with each of the homeowners and provide them with information and support throughout the claim process.”

Background Information

What does EQC cover for landslips?

With landslips, EQC covers natural disaster damage to residential land with a property boundary, and includes:

  • The land under a home or outbuildings (e.g. garage or sheds);
  • The land within 8 metres of a home or outbuildings;
  • The land under or supporting the main access way, up to 60 metres from a dwelling, but not the driveway surfacing.

EQCover for land damage also extends to the following:

  • Bridges and culverts within the above areas, and
  • Some retaining walls and their support systems necessary for the support or protection of a home or insured land including the main access way within 60 metres of a house.

How much can EQC pay out?

EQCover pays the lesser of either:

  • The cost to repair the damaged land, or

The value of the damaged land, or the value of 4,000 square metres, or the value of the minimum-sized building site allowed in the area in which you live – whichever is the lower.

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EQC welcomes Act changes and gets ready to respondWednesday, February 13, 2019The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission has announced changes to the Earthquake Commission Act

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Hon Dr Megan Woods has announced changes to the Earthquake Commission Act, which will be phased in over the next 12 months.

The EQC Amendment Bill has been passed in Parliament and builds on the lessons of recent event responses including the Canterbury earthquakes. There are four key changes to the law:

  • An immediate extension of the timeframe for lodging a claim from three months to two years.
  • Provide EQC scope to share information as necessary to settle insurance claims;
  • Removal of the $20,000 EQCover for contents from July 2019; and
  • An increase in the cap on EQC residential building cover to $150,000 from July 2019.

Changes to contents cover and the increase in the residential building cap will be phased-in over 12 months from July 2019 as existing insurance policies are renewed or replaced.

Under the changes, EQC will continue to insure residential buildings and land, although it will no longer provide cover for contents.

The EQC Act has been under review since 2012 as successive governments have considered changes to natural disaster insurance arrangements and the management of risk and recovery in New Zealand.

“The review, and the changes that have been announced, have looked at the lessons, not only from the Canterbury earthquakes but other events since the current Earthquake Commission Act was enacted in 1993,” says Chief Executive, Sid Miller.

“Along with these policy changes, we have also introduced a range of operational and organisation changes since 2017 to improve our claim management processes and customer experience.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

When will these changes come into effect?

The changes to information sharing and claims lodgement rules will take effect from the day after enactment of the Bill. 

The changes to contents cover and the increase in the residential building cap are expected to take effect as homeowner’s policies are taken out or renewed over the 12 months from 1 July 2019. 

Will this affect my existing EQC claim?

Your existing claim will not be affected by the amendments, as we will continue to manage it under the current provisions of the Act, e.g. $100,000 cap still applies to existing claims.

The improved information-sharing provisions will apply to all existing and future claims-related information held by EQC.

How will these changes affect future EQC claims?

The changes broaden how we can apply the Earthquake Commission Act. Once the Bill is enacted, you will have up to two years from when your property incurs natural disaster damage. The residential building cap will increase to $150,000 on each claim from 1 July 2019.

The two year claims lodgement deadline will be available to any claim arising from an event from the day after enactment of the Bill. 

There will be a 12-month transition period as your insurance policies renew or are replaced from 1 July 2019. 

We will continue to work closely with insurers over this transition period to ensure you receive the correct entitlements based on your underlying insurance policy. 

The new EQCover will be fully in place for all our claimants from 1 July 2020.

Will EQC continue to insure land?

Yes. The amendments make no change to EQC’s land cover.

What is the information sharing provision and what does this mean for personal information?

The updated provisions contained in the amendments provide scope for us to share information we collect about residential property claims lodged with EQC. However, this does not mean that we share your personal information such as your contact or financial details.

For example, if private insurers act as EQC’s agents to settle claims, as they have done for the Kaikōura earthquake, we will be able to share previous claim information on the property.  Another example is that we can provide claim information to a prospective buyer of a house that we have previously repaired.

In regard to personal information, we are still bound by the provisions and protections under the Privacy Act. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been closely consulted in the development of the Bill and the information sharing provisions reflect the advice received from the Office.

What does ‘property information’ mean?

The amendment defines property-related information as information about natural disaster damage to a residential property (dwelling and land) and any claims made under the Earthquake Commission Act.

It also covers information about the assessed cost of replacing or reinstating damaged property, what repair work has been carried out and settlement amounts.

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EQC funds science journalism awardWednesday, January 16, 2019The awards allow journalists to spend time investigating science-related issues that matter to New Zealanders

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

EQC is very pleased to announce that it is funding an Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund Award in 2019 in the area of natural hazards risk and resilience.

The awards provide journalists with the opportunity to spend time investigating science-related issues that matter to New Zealanders.

Dr Hugh Cowan, Director Resilience Research, says that with the pressures on journalists nowadays, it is very hard for them to get the time to do in-depth reporting, particularly in the science area.

“Natural hazard risks and how those risks can be reduced is an extremely important topic for New Zealand.

“We’re asking journalists to present ideas for articles on EQC’s key resilience goals which are stronger homes on better land, connected by infrastructure that can withstand disaster – and access to insurance – so it’s a wide area.   

“Our aim is for communities to understand the natural hazard risks they face, and to be able to make informed decisions on how to reduce the impacts.  A lot of scientific research has been done, but it’s not always easy to understand.  Journalists play vital role in translating the science and bringing it closer to communities making these decisions.

“The Science Journalism Fund awards have so far led to major articles on everything from big data privacy issues to climate change and we are very pleased to be adding natural hazards resilience into the mix through our EQC award,” says Hugh.

You can see more about the awards at https://www.sciencejournalismfund.nz

EQC invests $16 million in scientific research each year to help reduce the impact of natural disaster on people and property.

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