Storm shows we are all Civil De­fence

South Canterbury Herald - - OUT & ABOUT - STU OLD­HAM

More than one on­line com­men­ta­tor won­dered on Fri­day what "civil de­fence" was do­ing about the state of the roads.

The roads were flood­ing, they said, so shouldn’t Civil De­fence do some­thing about it?

Sure, the dis­trict’s coun­cils were clos­ing roads left, right and cen­tre, but shouldn’t Civil De­fence do its part, too?

The truth is, it was do­ing its part - and the flood­ing that at times paral­ysed parts of South Canterbury brought it to the fore.

The dec­la­ra­tion of the state of emer­gency was just the next step among many taken by those man­ag­ing us through the storm.

The emer­gency man­age­ment teams were the of­fi­cial face of the re­sponse, but the re­sponse went much deeper.

Civil de­fence is not a sin­gle or­gan­i­sa­tion. It is an amal­gam of many dif­fer­ent groups that come to­gether to man­age an emer­gency.

It is also not just an amal­gam of groups. It is also a bunch of peo­ple of­ten not part of a for­mal group, and it is the sum to­tal of all their ac­tions.

Civil de­fence is all of us. It is a recog­ni­tion of our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to our­selves and each other in an emer­gency, and an ac­knowl­edge­ment there are peo­ple there to help.

The more-than 50 call­outs at­tended by South Canterbury’s paid and vol­un­teer fire crews on Fri­day were acts of civil de­fence, as were the in­nu­mer­able traf­fic calls and home vis­its per­formed by po­lice. The 80 lines com­pany con­trac­tors who worked to keep power flow­ing around the re­gion, and the con­trac­tors at­tend­ing to flooded roads and prop­er­ties, were all there for civil de­fence.

The coun­cil work­ers and con­trac­tors who cleaned drains and traps many days ago did so

‘‘The emer­gency man­age­ment teams were the of­fi­cial face of the re­sponse, but the re­sponse went much deeper.’’

for civil de­fence, as did the St John of­fi­cials who read­ied their ros­ters of vol­un­teers.

At the com­mu­nity wel­fare cen­tres, the vol­un­teers ready­ing for an in­flux of evac­uees were per­form­ing their part for civil de­fence. The Ti­maru Her­ald/Stuff jour­nal­ists who worked over the emer­gency were there to help read­ers un­der­stand the emer­gency, too. Else­where, civil de­fence ac­tions hap­pened with­out be­ing la­belled.

Neigh­bours were checked by tele­phone and door knock; dry wood was taken next door, cooked meals were of­fered and trac­tors were made ready. Fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours said they were ready to help if the worst hap­pened: some needed to help clean up in the af­ter­math.

The past few days have also shown there is plenty of room for us to be more ef­fec­tive in mak­ing sure we weather any storm.

How many of us have plans for an emer­gency, and how many of us are sure our homes and busi­nesses are as re­silient as pos­si­ble?

How many of us know about the com­mu­nity emer­gency re­sponse plan for our area, or where we can go for help?

The past few days have shown we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­trib­ute, in our own way, to civil de­fence be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter an emer­gency.

Get to know your neigh­bour. Vol­un­teer for a com­mu­nity group. Take time to un­der­stand some­one’s job. Af­ter all, we are all civil de­fence.

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