Who’s on duty when storm hits
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?