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New Zealand Earthquake

On February 22, 2001, a 7.2 earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, destroying the city’s Central Business District (CBD), causing hundreds of thousands of tons of liquefaction, and damaging the city’s infrastructure. Global Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT) mobilized an assessment team and inserted with a ten thousand liter per day water filter as well as mapping equipment. The team then connected with the United Nation’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), New Zealand Civil Defense, USHAHIDI, and the Volunteer Army Foundation, who were already providing assistance.

Global DIRT members traveled across the CBD with Geographic Information System (GIS) enabled cameras to map out infrastructure damage and relayed information back to relevant partners. This information, along with thousands of crowd sourced reports, was entered into the USHAHIDI platform to provide a near real time operational picture of the disaster zone.

Additionally, Global DIRT team members went out with the Student Volunteer Army (now the Volunteer Army Foundation), a group of students coordinating and providing manual labor debris removal. Due to the high volume of liquefaction (silt that rises out of the ground and deposits several feet into residents’ homes) that occurred, there was a need for thousands of personnel to clear it out by hand with shovels and wheelbarrows. The volunteers met every day at the University of Canterbury and were transported to properties where survivors had asked for cleanup assistance.

The after action report of this mission sparked Global DIRT to identify and develop a large scale coordination plan for volunteer management and a needs management system that would later be used in response to Super Storm Sandy in the Tri-State area.