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Newtown push to prepare locals for the worst

Aug 22nd, 2014 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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NEWTOWN has no emergency response plan and civil defence organisers want to help the community develop one.

Having the ability to respond to a natural disaster will strengthen the community, says Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO).

Jason Paul, emergency management advisor at WREMO, is organising a meeting with Newtown’s business and resource owners to start planning.

“The goal is to empower the community to be able to respond quickly and look after themselves in the event of a disaster rather than waiting for the officials,” he says.

The plan will look at how to use resources and skills already in the community.

“It’s important to build relationships within the community so that people are familiar with each other and know what skills and resources are available,” says Mr Paul.

“We want to bring the community together and create a plan of action,” he says.

The emergency response plan will focus on dealing with the effects of an earthquake particularly within the first 72 hours, however Jason Paul says the planning will be effective in other emergencies.

It could be useful across a number of different problems ranging from the most simple DIY jobs to large storms.

“However realistically we are looking at events which will cut a community off,” he says.

“The plan will identify how specific challenges from the emergency will be handled.”

The Christchurch earthquake showed that connected communities are better equipped to effectively respond in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Mr Paul uses the Lyttelton community as an example. They came together, sharing resources and skills and were able to move forward.

Claire Pettegrew, an emergency response volunteer, pitched the idea at a residents meeting in Newtown last month and says there was a lot of interest.

She says the plan will be in the form of a living document which will receive ongoing updates.

Martin Hanley, President of the Newtown Residents Association, says a community driven emergency response is a powerful idea and it can succeed in Newtown.

“Newtown is already quite connected which will make it easier to bring people together,” Mr Hanley says.

“Although it will rely on volunteer energy, it’s an important issue and I think people will want to get involved.”

WREMO has consulted with a number of communities in the Wellington Region about emergency response planning including Tawa, Wadestown, Otaki, Waikanae, Plimmerton and Eastbourne.

For more information contact Jason Paul, emergency management advisor at WREMO on 04 830 2132.

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