Mayoral column February 2023
I have to be honest that I won’t be rushing to repeat the last couple of weeks in a hurry! It was a hard week but it also had some encouraging and inspiring moments too. Like most people, I have been keeping up to date with the news coming out of Hawkes Bay and Gisborne and it is really such a terrible time for them and we are helping and supporting in whatever ways we can.
Cyclone Gabrielle just skimmed our shores, and we were fortunate to be spared the worst of the cyclone’s impact. But I found it really heartening to see how willing and able our district was to move quickly and be prepared. So many marae, schools and kura stood up to be evacuation centres, iwi response teams leapt into action and council staff swapped roles quickly, pulling together a civil defence team to plan and prepare for the worst.
It was a reminder to everyone that being prepared is key. Civil Defence is all of us. Civil Defence is mostly a way of doing things - people who move into different jobs, processes and coordination of all the various groups so everyone knows who is doing what.
But in an emergency, the best thing you can do is to be prepared as a household, as an individual and as a wider community. We have a lot of hazards around here! Tsunami, storms, floods and earthquakes, maybe even fires or volcanoes. Have a plan for your whānau and try and make sure you can be on your own for three or so days. Perhaps know where you will meet if you can’t go home and what you will take with you. There are some great resources online, particularly the national website www.getready.govt.nz.
Ōpōtiki cares deeply and we will continue to find ways to support our neighbours through their whole, long journey to recovery. We can also take a moment this week to prepare ourselves and our households for next time.