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Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:30 am

Region plans get shake up as new emergency plans rolled out

Nov 7th, 2017 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Lead Story, News

Karori residents hear from the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office about the community’s emergency plan and details about community emergency hubs.

Karori residents have heard details of a new community-based disaster response model.

Karori Recreation Centre, along with other former civil defence centres, are now called ‘community emergency hubs’, renamed and reformed to act as community gathering-points during a disaster.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office introduced residents to the hub idea.

There are similar events in places like Maungaraki and Mount Victoria.

A ‘tsunami walkout’ is also scheduled for November 14 to plan and practice tsunami evacuation routes on the one-year anniversary of the Kaikoura earthquake.

The hubs will allow the community to co-ordinate disaster response efforts, provide updated information and facilities, and solve community problems.

They replace what was known as Civil Defence Centres.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office advisor Kerry McSaveney says the community hub model took advantage of the natural tendency of communities to respond to crises.

“We saw it in Christchurch, with the student volunteer army, all the churches popping up. Same in Kaikoura, it’s just the locals helping with what they’ve got available.

“People just helped because it’s what New Zealanders do.”

Ms McSaveney said the community emergency hub concept had had uptake in Tararua, Rotorua, Christchurch, and is being used in cities like San Francisco.

“Effectively we’re recognising what communities do naturally, and helping make it run smoother, so they’re not having to reinvent the wheel on the day, in the middle of a disaster.”

It was about locals knowing their community, its people, resources and amenities, something officials might not know about, she says.

Ms McSaveney says social media and modern communications technology played a big role in spreading information.

Locals had the chance to read over the community’s plan that is in place for emergency.

“It takes some pretty big events to knock it out.”

Local resident Charlotte Hoare, Head of Hall at Victoria’s Helen Lowry Hall in Karori, says seeing the plan and the community hub concept had given her piece of mind.

“In my case I’m responsible for a lot of people, and just to know that there’s a plan within Karori to help in times of need, especially after an emergency.”

Local resident Bruce Major says he supports the community hub idea.

“I think it’s a good idea to have a dialogue about it now before it happens and to find out more about our community.

“You can live here for many years but still not know some of the resources that are available.”

Onslow-Western Ward Councillor Andy Foster says because of seismic challenges in the Wellington area, it was important that the community was prepared.

“That means prepared as households, it means prepared as schools, prepared as businesses, and prepared as a community.

“I think what’s really cool is that people come out and start thinking about not only how they can be prepared, but also how we can help each other in the event of a major event.”

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