Co-ordinated Planning and Partnerships Pay Off

This year has continued our recent run of declared states of emergency around the country with what will be the largest All of Government response seen in New Zealand probably since the last world war. For myself, coming out of the Southland floods and then straight in the COVID-19 response we are certainly reaping the benefits of all our planning and working with our partners and stakeholders in building effective relationships for use in ‘the big one’.

Of course, for AF8 the ‘big one’ is a large earthquake in the South Island and we get closer to the next AF8 earthquake with every year that goes by.

Both the Southland Floods and COVID-19 responses have once again shown the need for local people to look after their local communities. It has also shown how many ‘vulnerable’ members of our community need extra help in the best of times, never mind under a lockdown or following a large earthquake.

Operation Milford Te Anau Community Emergency Hub

Operation Milford – Evacuees from Milford and the surrounding tracks were looked after at the Te Anau Community Emergency Hub (February 2020)

We have been working with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) about how we would respond to either a regional flood or an AF8 event, even under a pandemic lockdown. Of course, a life-threatening event will be dealt with in the usual way with our emergency services at the forefront doing the jobs they are trained for. We also expect the public to follow the normal procedures e.g. ‘drop cover and hold’ and ‘long or strong, get gone’ if we have an earthquake and/or tsunami event. Managing social distancing and reviewing any alert level or lockdown would be carried out following the immediate life-safety response.

Looking at the positives, we are all better prepared to work from home, we can live without a barista coffee and we have a better understanding of how important the supermarkets are in keeping the country going.

Angus McKay, AF8 Chair / Manager/Group Controller, Emergency Management Southland
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