The Porirua community steps up - again
Nerves were already frayed after the earthquake on November 14 - and then the floods came.
Porirua is used to flooding - it’s becoming endemic in the city. This time, the north was slammed, whereas in the past, streets in Titahi Bay or Cannons Creek have become rivers.
Is the rainfall getting heavier and harder, and more frequent, or is the city’s stormwater network badly lacking?
We know work is being done to upgrade the aged pipes and fair dues must be given to Porirua City Council, who know full well what is required to combat the deluges we get at least annually.
Council, Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, emergency services, and contracting staff were superb.
Yes, we faced delays on a massive scale getting home on Tuesday - and further into the week if you lived in Whitby or over the Haywards - but the way the flooding was dealt with was professional.
What was also outstanding was, once again, the community response to neighbours, schools and businesses in peril.
More than once last week did we witness food being delivered and volunteers showing up unannounced to help fight the rising floodwaters, slips and mud. Sleeves were rolled up and gumboots pulled on to get stuck in.
As happened in past flood events, homes and marae were opened as Porirua people came to the rescue.
Whitby homeowners Bernie and Cheryl Whelan had volunteers turn up to offer what help they could following a slip that threatened their house.
Their London-based daughter posted on social media about her parents’ plight, and out came the helpers.
Social media, in fact, plays a vital part during natural disasters these days. A group of Porirua City councillors, mayor Mike Tana, WREMOand NZ Transport Agency were the go-to on Twitter and Facebook, while media played an important part in disseminating it all.
Tana has called for a more coordinated response in the next emergency and he’s spot on.
At the moment, residents can go to a number of places to find out about impassable roads, schools being shut and other vital intelligence. A single Facebook page or Twitter account would make life easier.
Meanwhile, the situation at Porirua School needs urgent addressing. Not in the long-term, but very soon. Vanessa Hendry was the picture of frustration as her school was flooded twice in a week.
Porirua City Council and the Ministry of Education has flagged that a working group will discuss a solution.
The council must act to ensure proper drainage of Awarua St and other roads nearby, while the Ministry needs to do much more to protect its asset.