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Disaster Preparation At Community Level

PREPARING FOR DISASTERS AT A
COMMUNITY LEVEL

How can Auckland communities improve their response, and their resilience, to natural disasters? That was the topic for discussion at a recent workshop held by Auckland City Council.

Representatives from each of Auckland City’s Community Boards, including Toni Millar from Eastern Bays and Christine Clark from Tamaki, were in attendance at the workshop, which was called in response to a recent paper on ‘disasters and communities’, prepared for the Council by Dr Douglas Paterson of Massey University.

The meeting highlighted the need for communities to change how they ‘prepare’ for disasters.

Toni Millar says that traditionally Councils have focussed on preparing for specific impacts of disasters such as volcanoes and earthquakes.

“What we should be moving too in the future is a more sustainable approach, where communities themselves get more involved, and contribute to planning for their immediate area. This should lead to greater self-sufficiency and resilience if a disaster were ever to occur.

“What if the emergency services are at full stretch and can’t respond? If schools are isolated for three days, what is the community prepared for? These are the sorts of questions that, as a community, we need to consider,” she says.
Workshop participants concluded that, whilst in terms of its size, Auckland City has significant resources with which to respond, communities need to prepare for a time when those resources simply won’t be adequate.

Christine Clark says that the future of emergency management is about planning with, not just talking to, Auckland’s communities.

“We are asking community members to think seriously about how they can prepare for an emergency. Obviously we want them to be aware of whom they can contact for help and information, but are also encouraging community groups and professional clubs to look at the needs and vulnerabilities in their area.

If an emergency does then take place, the groups will be in a much better position to offer neighbourhood support where, and when, it is needed most.”

A regional strategy on emergency management in Auckland is due for publication at the end of July.

ENDS

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