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Hamilton ready to help

Families of Whakaari White Island victims are already arriving in Hamilton – and the city is making sure it’s ready.

Some victims rescued from the island after Monday’s volcanic eruption are being treated in Waikato Hospital. Details of where they are from, or their status, have not been released.

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate says the city will do “what it takes” to provide whatever support families might need.

“I don’t think Hamiltonians would want us to do anything less. These people are guests in our city under the most horrendous circumstances and if we can help, we should. I know that’s what people would want us to do.”

On Tuesday Hamilton City Council activated the Hamilton City Civil Defence Emergency Management Group. Since Tuesday afternoon, the group made up of rotating Hamilton City Council staff has been working to ensure families and supporters will feel welcome and supported while in the city.

The Group is working in support of the Waikato District Health Board – the lead agency – and other services to provide what support is needed while the victims and their families are in Hamilton.

Civil Defence Controller Kelvin Powell said Hamilton was focussed on providing practical family support.

“We will be helping families get from the airport in Auckland, arrange transport to the hospital and make sure they know where they are going.”

“We’re also arranging accommodation, food, helping them orientate around the city and anything else they need. We can’t do much for those in hospital receiving expert care, but we can help their friends and family who have travelled to our city to be with them.”

Mr Powell said it was unclear how many people would be arriving in Hamilton but that the Emergency Management Group was well-prepared. One family has already arrived and at least one more is expected this week.

He declined to say where those families were from or where they were staying.

Mayor Southgate said the city would stay focussed on standing by the families as they deal with an “unspeakable event”. She had thanked members of the Civil Defence Group who had dropped everything to help.

“Our top priority is to make sure the families of victims in Waikato Hospital feel welcome and supported during this very difficult time. We’re here to make things as easy as possible for them so they can focus on spending time with their family.”


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