Interest in forming civil defence group

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YVONNE.O’HARA

@alliedpress.co.nz

Members of the Millers Flat community are keen to set up a civil defence group to ensure the area is prepared for emergencies.

A session about emergency scenarios and community preparedness was recently held in Millers Flat, hosted by Central Otago emergency management officer Matt Alley.

Mr Alley talked to community members about the Alpine Fault and subsequent outcomes if it ruptured.

Emergency management work was about “trying to build local resilience in local communities”, he said.

“We will advise on what the hazardscape is [in their area], what they are likely to face, and help them come up with local solutions to local problems.”

Mr Alley said the last major earthquake on the Alpine Fault was 300 years ago.

“There is about a 30% to 50% chance of it [another major earthquake] happening in the next 50 years, but there are a lot of variables.”

When, not if, it happened, there would be major damage to roading, bridges, power and communication infrastructure, Mr Alley said.

It was likely most roads would be damaged by slips and impassable, leaving towns and the 37 rural Central Otago communities cut off, and it was “highly unlikely” there would still be cellphone coverage.

Otago Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) was installing 15 VHF repeaters in the region for improved communications, he said. The project would be completed once weather improved.

Having hand-held radios for emergency management personnel and communities was also being considered.

CDEM in March signed with readiness and response software provider D4H Technologies to supply the operations centre and incident management platforms.

“It is now live and up and running, and we are further developing it for our needs.

“We are only the second group to run with it in New Zealand.”

Community response plan publications for Cromwell and the Maniototo have been released. A draft version for the Teviot will soon be online for consultation.

CDEM is talking with the Central Lakes Trust about funding small generators, diesel heaters, and lighting units for community civil defence groups.

Mr Alley said there were a lot of unknowns about hazards and outcomes after civil defence emergencies, and it was important every household was prepared with supplies for up to seven days, and that every family member knew where they should meet should an emergency happen while they were separated.