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Larry a reminder to be prepared

22 March 2006

Larry a reminder to be prepared

The effects of Cyclone Larry on north Queensland this week serves as a salutory reminder of how important it is for Aucklanders, and New Zealanders in general, to be prepared for natural disasters.

Auckland Region Civil Defence Emergency Management Group chairman Neil Morrison says New Zealand is also at risk from cyclones.

“It is merely chance and good fortune that means we haven’t had to manage such an event recently,” he says.

Regardless of this luck, Mr Morrison says Larry should come as a wake-up call to Aucklanders to be prepared.

“A number of significant cyclones have affected New Zealand over the years. In 1968 there was Gisele (the Wahine storm) and in 1988 Bola struck us, so we shouldn’t be complacent and fail to make arrangements for our own safety and wellbeing if a major disaster happens. This is the message we have been promoting in relation to Bird Flu and tsunami risks as well – be prepared for the worst.”

He says planning for such an event ensures that families are protected until help arrives. People should be prepared to wait up to three days for assistance after a major disaster therefore they need sufficient food and water to sustain themselves.

“The more we push that message out the more likely we are to get through to people and save them from heartache later on no matter what the event is, be it hurricane, earthquake, tsunami or flooding.”

Mr Morrison says this advice is timely considering tomorrow is World Meteorological Day co-ordinated by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation.

The choice of this year’s theme is in recognition of the fact that 90% of all natural hazards are related to weather, climate and water.

“This day couldn’t come at a better time when there is a more concentrated focus on Civil Defence and Emergency Management issues. Also, the theme of “preventing and mitigating natural disasters” fits well within the message of preparation and planning that the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group has been promoting.”

He says as north Queenslanders begin the arduous job of responding and recovering to the disaster, it is very wise for Aucklanders to think how they will react and respond in a similar situation.

“Again, it comes down to planning and preparation. Given that Auckland has a population of 1.3 million people it is highly possible that assistance could take several days to reach affected areas depending on the nature and scale of the disaster being faced. For this reason we urge everyone to stock up on essential items that will last them and their family for this time.”

Mr Morrison says the Group encourages everyone to visit the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website – www.civildefence.govt.nz – or check the inside back cover of the Yellow Pages for full details on how to be prepared.

ENDS

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