Log In

Reset Password

Can we cope in a disaster?

Tairawhiti is potentially ill-prepared to manage the recovery from a major disaster.

Gisborne district councillors this week voted unanimously to seek public feedback on updates to the district’s disaster recovery plans.

Council staff recommended work on the plans be progressed immediately, in a strongly-worded report presented to councillors at the civil defence and emergency management committee meeting on Thursday.

But Tairawhiti Emergency Management Office resources are already stretched and there is limited capacity to carry out tasks to prepare for disaster recovery, the report says.

It calls on councillors to set aside more money for recovery management in the council’s 2021-31 Long Term Plan but does not stipulate how much.

The Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management Group’s recovery plan is outdated— the copy on the council’s website was published in 2008 — and statutory updates to its strategic plan’s “recovery” section are overdue.

The strategic plan should have been refreshed by June 2018 after the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Amendment Act came into force in 2016 to improve disaster recovery.

The report says planning helps ease a community’s recovery from disaster by identifying actions that can be taken now to reduce the consequences of future emergencies, as well as identifying the resources that may be required during the recovery phase and the community assets to prioritise.

Council integrated strategy principal officer Yvette Kinsella told councillors at Thursday’s meeting the Edgecumbe flood and the earthquakes in Kaikoura and Christchurch had illustrated the importance of disaster recovery plans.

Tairawhiti’s recovery plan needed to be updated to reflect the knowledge gained from those disasters.

The district was arguably at the tail-end of the recovery from Cyclone Bola in 1988, Ms Kinsella said.

Feedback to be sought from the wider communityCouncillor Pat Seymour was not sold on the bureaucratic language of the documents prepared for public consultation, calling them “frightfully wordy”, such as the objective to “seek permission rather than forgiveness” for recovery action.

But she was more vehement over seeking an assurance that feedback on the plans would be sought from the wider community and not just civil defence community link teams.

She asked “when are we going to be taking it out to our communities?”

Ms Kinsella agreed on the need to seek broad feedback and said workshops would be held to involve the community. It was important to seek the community’s permission before a disaster for actions to be taken during the recovery, she said.

The draft plans were put on the council’s website – www.gdc.govt.nz – yesterday. Submissions close on December 9.

The report says the consultation process is expected to cost about $1500 and will be covered by existing budgets.