Tuesday, June 25, 2024

West Coast praised for storm response

The West Coast should hold its head high after a fantastic response to the severe weather event of recent days, Minister for Emergency Management, Kiri Allan said today.

“Emergency management is about preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, and that’s exactly what we saw. West Coast Emergency Management, Buller Emergency Management and all supporting agencies acted early, decisively, coordinated their efforts effectively, and put the safety of the community first,” the Minister said.

“Staff and resources were surged in quickly, with great support from other regions and agencies. We were poised with boots and equipment on the ground well before the weather hit, and those who had to evacuate had plenty of time to get ready.

“The response is now focused on enabling locals to return to their homes after yesterday’s evacuations in Westport and ensuring the wellbeing of the affected communities.

“I’d like to thank everyone who recognised the call to support the West Coast community during this response. It’s been a real team effort that has brought local and national agencies together with volunteers and the community in a massive coordinated effort.   

“The dedication of these people never fails to astound me. I take my hat off to them.”

Ms Allan was due to fly into the area last night but was unable to land and was diverted to Christchurch.

She says the response was supported on the ground by personnel from the National Emergency Management Agency, neighbouring  CDEM Groups, emergency services, lifeline utilities, and government agencies including the NZ Defence Force, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries, and Waka Kotahi. The Emergency Management Assistance Team and New Zealand Response Teams surged in ahead of the storm to support the locally led effort.

The Minister said the Government would continue to support the Buller community as it continued its long recovery.

“We recognise that this is another setback to a community that is already in the midst of a long recovery following the July 2021 flooding.  I just want to assure the people of Buller that we know there’s a long and tough road ahead of you, and the Government is here for the long haul.”

“I also want to acknowledge the efforts of MetService for the instrumental role they played forecasting the severe weather and issuing timely warnings, and NIWA for providing expert hydrology advice to the local CDEM Group,” Ms Allan said.

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