Newlands take disaster seriously – even if it is an exercise
NEWLANDS was a disaster zone on Saturday as locals practised being prepared for an emergency.
The exercise was run by Newlands Civil Resilience at the local marae.
“It has become a big priority for the community,” said Bill Rawiri, Nga Hau e Wha O Papararangi marae chairperson.
“The important thing is that we’re ready when the people need us most.”
Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, pictured above, became disaster ‘victims’ and helpers in a major earthquake.
“It’s amazing how diverse the community and people willing to help are,” said Lisa Cunningham, who works at Newlands Community Centre.
The disaster aimed for reality so people had to respond to unpredictable emergency scenarios.
These included dealing with lost property or loved ones, abandoned pets, seeking immediate first aid or help for existing health problems.
“One thing we know about disasters is we don’t know how well we will react,” said Fiona Bain, Newlands Civil Resilience Team project leader.
“Use common sense, go with the flow, do what you can.”
Community members took charge of advisory roles such as accommodation, animal welfare and registration of lost persons.
Also involved in the emergency efforts were Paparangi Scouts and about 50 guests from several Hutt Valley marae.
A gas operated hot water supply was set up, which provides almost instant heated water.
The exercise was immediately followed by a debrief.
Speaking at the end of the day, Mr Rawiri acknowledged the support of Hutt City Council and Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development.
The ministry helps fund Newlands Resilience team’s Community Preparedness Plan by getting maraes ready to support resilience – future emergency action in Newlands plan to use the Community Centre as the main coordination area and the marae as a ‘safe haven’.
“Today the crowd needing help was a trickle but it’s going to be a flood,” said Mr Rawiri, referring to potential quake disasters.
“We are picking a lot of holes but it is so we will learn a lot and better prepare ourselves for when we need it most.”
Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) and the New Zealand Resilience Trust also spoke in support of the project.
“It is all about sharing information and I really encourage people to take part in the programmes we have,” said Kerry McSaveney, WREMO emergency management advisor.
The next public WREMO emergency preparedness workshop is on from July 2-23 in Wellington.
Nga Hau e Wha o Paparangi Marae, 30 Ladbrooke Drive : www.nhewop.co.nz