The Road to Recovery – Responding to the Kaikoura Earthquake: Reconnecting Communities

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Ford Scott

This presentation will provide an insightful, behind-the-scenes look at the response to the Kaikoura earthquakes, with images and videos that illustrate the enormity of the task facing those responsible for the recovery.

On the 14th of November 2016, Kaikoura experienced an earthquake event that released more than 70% of all energy from the recent six years of Christchurch quakes. The initial rupture northeast of Rotherham set off a chain reaction of fault ruptures causing extensive devastation through Kaikoura, Awatere and into Wellington, shifting the South Island 5m closer to the North Island. A civil emergency was declared and the pressure was on to reconnect the road and communication infrastructure across the region.

The emergency response was a tribute to the collaborative nature of kiwi organisations. Emergency Services and military personnel worked alongside the local community, iwi, contractors and government agencies to ensure the rapid response was managed safely and collaboratively.

The infrastructure sector played a critical role in reconnecting Kaikoura. Local contractors worked to reopen the inland route quickly to ensure critical supplies were able to come in and out of the Kaikoura region. With the roads and rail out of action, air and water support became critical. The Navy and Army, in conjunction with other operators, ferried in essential supplies by air – everything from food and medical supplies to 1700kg diggers and evacuated people and possessions plus 30,000 bees by boat.

The inland route and State Highway 1 southbound were reopen in record time, however with $3 billion worth of recovery infrastructure programmed, we have a long way to go.

There has been plenty of news coverage during the event and following the recovery progress that likely gives the general public a sense of familiarity with all that has occurred. Despite this there are many new and surprising learnings coming to the surface as time marches on, and there are quite a few facts that may not be so well known.

Scott Ford is the South Island General Manager for Downer.

A Chartered Civil Engineer with more than 17 years industry experience, Scott is at home in the South Island. He has worked in a variety of infrastructure leadership roles and has managed a number of civil defence emergencies. His local knowledge and leadership made him the obvious choice to step in and manage the Kaikoura response on the ground following the North Canterbury earthquake.

Scott is on the board for Isaac Asphalt, he is an independent director for Tasman Rugby Union and is on the governance boards for the Dunedin City Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council Road Maintenance Contracts.

When not at work, Scott likes to spend time with his Family as his first priority helping his children with their involvement in numerous sports and activities. After retiring from many years of playing rugby, Scott has stayed fit with running and surf ski paddling.