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Researchers have found that Auckland businesses are vulnerable to infrastructure loss caused by natural hazard events, with over three-quarters unable to function when water, communication or electricity was lost in this year’s storm in April.

On 10th April 2018 Auckland was hit by a severe storm, with heavy rain causing flooding, and winds of up to 140km/h, which are typical of a category 2 tropical cyclone. The storm resulted in the loss of electricity to thousands of homes in Auckland, as well as cancellations of flights in and out of the city.

Researchers from Resilience to Nature’s Challenges surveyed small to medium-sized businesses in Mt Albert, New Lynn, Glen Innes, Devonport, Titirangi and Glendowie to find out how the storm affected their operation, and to understand their current levels of resilience and preparedness.

They found that of 71 businesses surveyed, three quarters or more were unable to function without key infrastructure services. 74 percent of businesses reported not being able to function without telecommunication, 84 percent couldn’t operate without a water supply and 96 percent without electricity.

Dr Alice Chang-Richards, lead researcher on the project said: “This highlights a large gap in emergency preparedness in these businesses, who are very dependent on infrastructure services due to not having backup generators or water tanks in case of an emergency.”

The study also found that 20 percent of businesses did not have an emergency or business continuity plan in place. Plus, of those that did, many noted that they did not practice their plan. This suggests that even if businesses do have plans, they are unlikely to be able to carry them out effectively and benefit from them.

Further to this, only a very small number of the surveyed Auckland businesses reviewed and improved their business model after the storm.

“The 96 percent of businesses who did not review and improve their business model could not foresee a way to cope with disruptions caused by natural events in the long-run, as they failed to revise their business model to adapt to unexpected changes,” said Dr Chang-Richards.

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