Golden Bay went ‘above and beyond’ to help
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.