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Auckland Boards back locally-led emergency response

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Local boards in the south of the city are calling for co-ordinated emergency responses that include local input to make the most of knowledge specific to communities.

With weather havoc fresh on the mind, Manurewa Local Board has responded to Auckland Council’s Civil Defence Emergency Management group plan, calling for more opportunity for community input.

“We are concerned there’s little opportunity for us to talk to our people to inform our feedback,” board chair Glenn Murphy says, with its views provided on the basis they might change after community input.

“Our community is vulnerable to climate change because we live close to the coast, have low tree canopy cover and many of our residents work outdoors.

“We’re pleased the plan requires the development of local emergency plans because the public often don’t understand what they should do or where they should go.

“Civil Defence Centres should be in locations that are accessible on foot, and they should be adequately equipped, and ideally have a power supply independent of the grid.”

Franklin Local Board also submitted significant feedback, some of it focussed on responses specific to rural settings.

Board chair Angela Fulljames says growth brings a dilemma. “Experience shows that as the size of communities increases, people are less likely to come forward to lead development of local plans.

“We believe Auckland Emergency Management and/or Council should have a direct role in supporting communities to develop those plans.”

Unreliable internet coverage and mobile connectivity were identified as particular concerns.

“Connectivity in rural areas often relies on electrical supply. When power goes out, people can’t access communications and we need to be aware that relying on those methods is ineffective in the rural context.”

Papakura Local Board chair Brent Catchpole says the area already has groups prepared to be ready to respond to emergencies.

“Our role has to be making sure people understand what they should do or where they should go. In the past people knew to go to a local shelter.

“We want Civil Defence Centres that are fit for purpose, and we have a number of sports facilities that might be more suitable than the Elizabeth Campbell Centre, which has no showers.”

He says Papakura also has several groups that consistently respond to emergencies, Papakura Marae, Kootuitui ki Papakura, Gurudwarah Sikh Temple, local churches and others.

Image credit: Kelly Sikkema

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