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Learnings sought from July snow event emergency response

Learnings sought from July snow event emergency response

Ruapehu agencies and organisations involved in the response to the massive snowstorm that brought the central North Island to a standstill in mid-July (13-14) have met to discuss what they can learn from event.

Around 40 personnel from Ruapehu District Council, the Police, Fire, Army, road contractors, utility companies, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Primary Industries and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and others shared their experiences at a special response review meeting in Taumarunui today (24 Aug 17).

Ruapehu Emergency Management Officer Nick Watson said although both Council and MCDEM felt the response went well there are always things to learn and things we could have done better.

“A particular strength of this response was the communications between the agencies and how they worked together under the conditions which included extensive road closures and prolonged power outages,” he said.

“The power outages caused a raft of issues that the responders needed to deal with including the loss of cell phone coverage that started to fail when cell phone tower batteries ran down and townships running low on water when the water treatment plants went off line.”

“The road closures due to the deep snow and ice also proved a challenge for responders which in some cases was worsened by needing to assist people who ignored the road closure notices or who didn’t have the required snow driving skills.”

“While most people respected the conditions and stayed off the roads there were some instances of people driving around roadblocks, and one extreme case of the same person who needed to be helped three times for running off the road.”

Mr. Watson said that all the feedback will now be collated and utilized to help improve planning and readiness for the next big snow event or other emergency.


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