Golden Bay went ‘above and be­yond’ to help

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - NINA HIND­MARSH

Golden Bay busi­nesses went ‘‘above and be­yond’’ to help peo­ple need­ing to leave the area fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the Takaka Hill road last week.

The road was re­opened on Sun­day to traf­fic in con­voys, af­ter it was badly dam­aged by ex­Cy­clone Gita.

Res­i­dent Shel­ley Grell said small busi­nesses and oper­a­tors worked ‘‘tire­lessly’’ to extend their ser­vices to bring in sup­plies and help those des­per­ate to get out.

‘‘For all the small oper­a­tors in Golden Bay, to be able to up­scale to such a mas­sive de­mand and try and help every­body out, is in­cred­i­ble,’’ she said.

‘‘That flex­i­bil­ity of every­body in the Bay to adapt dur­ing a cri­sis, which they did re­ally well.’’

It was shown in the ef­forts of small air­craft oper­a­tors and pi­lots do­ing dozens of back-to-back flights per day and pick­ing up med­i­cal sup­plies, postal mail and news­pa­pers, to lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion providers not charg­ing stranded tourists ex­tra.

Re­cre­ation cen­tre staff were run off their feet tak­ing in tourists’ hire ve­hi­cles for re­turn, and other small trans­port providers and freight com­pa­nies cre­ated ad­di­tional routes.

She said every­body was ‘‘to­tally stretched, but went above and be­yond’’ to meet the needs of ev­ery­one.

‘‘They all did it for the love of the peo­ple and a de­sire to help.’’

Grell, a pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant, said she was ‘‘blown-away’’ by the high-level of de­mand tire­less staff and vol­un­teers were faced with at the Golden Bay Vis­i­tors Cen­tre.

‘‘The staff at the vis­i­tors cen­tre worked all day, talk­ing to a nev­erend­ing queue of peo­ple all wait­ing, and all ask­ing the same ques­tions,’’ she said.

‘‘The phone was hot, and they were con­stantly up­dat­ing so­cial me­dia stuff in­formed.’’

Grell said there were a lot of ‘‘very con­cerned peo­ple’’ want­ing to get out of the Bay, and not know­ing the an­swers.

‘‘I was very im­pressed how they man­aged to deal with mul­ti­ple emo­tions of all those peo­ple.’’ to keep peo­ple

Vis­i­tors cen­tre man­ager Jas­mine Pol­glase said over 900 peo­ple came through their doorslast week.

The long­est day she worked at the cen­tre last week was 16 hours.

‘‘If we weren’t here at the vis­i­tors cen­tre, there would be noone to be the face of Golden Bay an­swer­ing to all those peo­ple.’’

Cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive Fiona Mount­fort said she had ‘‘never ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing like that be­fore’’.

‘‘I think we worked re­ally well as a team,’’ she said.

‘‘Peo­ple were pan­ick­ing, work­ing out how to get out and feel­ing trapped.‘‘ Philip and Cathy Sim were stuck in Golden Bay with their autis­tic son and needed to get him home to Waikawa Bay, near Pic­ton.

Philip said they were ‘‘very grate­ful’’ for the Golden Bay com­mu­nity for help­ing them. They were able to get to the front of the queue with the road open­ing as they were clas­si­fied as pri­or­ity trav­ellers.

‘‘The girls at the iSite were lovely, very help­ful and very un­der­stand­ing.’’

The Sims said their ac­com­mo­da­tion provider had also been re­ally help­ful let­ting them stay for longer, and al­low­ing them to work out the bill at a later date.

‘‘Every­body has been great ... even though we had to stay a bit longer we’ve had a won­der­ful time here ex­plor­ing. We will be back.’’

An­other cou­ple from Ti­maru said the vis­i­tors cen­tre work­ers had helped them take their car to the Rec Cen­tre and leave it there, even though they had just closed.

Neil Ber­ming­ham from Rich­mond said he was dis­ap­pointed at the lack of in­for­ma­tion avail­able from Civil De­fence, which had meant the women at the vis­i­tors cen­tre had to an­swer ev­ery­one’s queries. ‘‘The girls at the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre both were mar­vel­lous. They han­dled rude peo­ple and did it beau­ti­fully with a smile on their faces.’’


Golden Bay Vis­i­tors Cen­tre staff worked tire­lessly last week to serve over 900 peo­ple com­ing through their doors foll­wo­ing the clo­sure of the Takaka Hill road. Jas­mine Pol­glase (left) and Fiona Mount­forte.

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