Who’s on duty when storm hits

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - HUGH VERCOE

The re­cent ma­jor flood­ing within the Pi­ako area iden­ti­fied some con­fu­sion as to who was do­ing what.

The first trig­ger of a weather event comes from Met Ser­vice who is­sue a Watch. All play­ers note this and carry on with their work.

The next up­graded no­tice is a Warn­ing. On re­ceipt of this both re­gional coun­cil and the lo­cal coun­cil start plan­ning. Meet­ings are held with rel­e­vant staff and out­side or­gan­i­sa­tions. A sim­ple list of who will be on duty, what their role is, and their con­tact de­tails is drawn up. From this point both coun­cils start con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing of the event.

When the cy­clone hit the area Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil staff went out in the field mon­i­tor­ing wa­ter lev­els, de­liv­er­ing sand bags, check­ing the var­i­ous data on the teleme­try up­stream and work­ing to pre­dict how much wa­ter was fall­ing in the catch­ment and what sort of time be­fore it worked its way through.

Farm­ers want­ing ad­vice re­gard­ing pre­dicted wa­ter lev­els and to re­port over­top­ping or se­ri­ous flood­ing is­sues need to phone re­gional coun­cil.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil’s role is man­ag­ing the event as a lo­cal Civil De­fence Emer­gency Man­age­ment role.

In the last event an Emer­gency Op­er­at­ing Cen­tre (EOC) was es­tab­lished at the coun­cil HQ in Te Aroha. The EOC is re­spon­si­ble for is­su­ing emer­gency road clo­sures, re­spond­ing to trees down on roads, de­liv­er­ing sand bags to ur­ban houses, as well as be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the wel­fare of the com­mu­nity.

The EOC tasks Ful­ton Ho­gan, its road­ing con­trac­tor, with road­ing is­sues, and con­tacted Ru­ral Sup­port Trust to pro­vide wel­fare sup­port to the af­fected farm­ers.

Any­one need­ing these ser­vices should phone Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil.

Po­lice and fire are both op­er­at­ing un­der their own com­mand struc­ture. The first per­son to see the Paeroa Tahuna Road un­der wa­ter should call 111 im­me­di­ately to tell po­lice. Home own­ers whose houses are threat­ened with flood­ing should call 111 and ask for as­sis­tance from the fire bri­gade.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers came on board to help any farmer whether they were a mem­ber or not. Their help was in get­ting cows trucked out of the area to suit­able graz­ing.

They also had sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of dairy feed do­nated by other farm­ers. They could be con­tacted di­rect or through the EOC.

Back in Hamil­ton there was a Waikato fo­cused Group Emer­gency Op­er­at­ing Cen­tre. This is staffed by pro­fes­sional Civil De­fence peo­ple who are mon­i­tor­ing the event across the whole re­gion. They are there to sup­port the lo­cal EOCs where needed.

If the event has es­ca­lated to a point where the emer­gency ser­vices could not cope then a for­mal emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion would be made. This al­lows the civil de­fence con­troller to assume com­mand of all par­ties in man­ag­ing the event.

-Hugh Vercoe, Wai­hou coun­cil­lor, Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil­lor.


Pas­tures flooded near the Pi­ako River. Who should peo­ple turn to for help when a weather event strikes?

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