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Update On Storm Response Fund: Mayor Wants Resources And Decision-making To Sit Closer To Communities

Mayor Wayne Brown and Councillors met to consider how the proposed $20 million Storm Response Fund might be allocated to improve Auckland’s ability to prepare for and respond to future storms.

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At a Governing Body workshop last week, council staff went through proposed programmes and activities for funding.

“Aucklanders want to see immediate action. We have to deliver tangible results on the ground, especially for those who live in flood prone areas. Today, I think we are all encouraged by the work that is underway,” Mayor Brown said.

Auckland Council’s priorities for the Storm Response Fund include strengthening Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) and specific Civil Defence Centre (CDC) locations, supporting storm resilient communities, funding community-led planning and preparedness, proactive monitoring and maintenance of the flood network, and accelerated adaptation planning.

At the time of the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, the Mayor was impressed by the community-led responses that he saw, and grateful for the hard work of elected members, volunteers, and mana whenua.

In Puhoi, local residents led by the fire chief cleaned-up the entire town.

“Their can-do attitude and coordinated efforts make me confident that Local Boards can take charge in an emergency, and that more decision-making powers and resources should sit closer to our communities,” Mayor Brown said.

“We are looking at funding the community response, and stationing containers with emergency provisions at more Civil Defence Centres and marae across the region.

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“Auckland has entered a transition phase that focuses on response, recovery, and resilience. We are hyper-conscious of the recommendations of the Bush Report, and we committed to doing things differently.

Following the devastating effects of floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, the Mayor proposed a Storm Response Fund of $20 million each year. In March, the proposed Storm Response Fund was included in public consultation on the Annual Budget 2023/24, with 69 percent of participants opting to proceed with the proposal.

As part of the Annual Budget refresh in early-May, council staff advised that a further $30 million may be required to fund short-term storm-related costs in 2023/24. By last week’s Governing Body workshop, council staff had clawed back that additional requirement to $20 million, bringing the total to $40 million.

Over the next month, the proposed Storm Response Fund will be included in the final Mayoral Proposal and go to the vote on the Annual Budget 2023/24.

“Auckland Council’s storm response will still be centrally coordinated by Auckland Emergency Management (AEM), but it wouldn’t be top-down anymore. It’s about supporting our communities to be resilient and respond quickly,” Mayor Brown said.

“We will work closely with Local Boards to develop and progress these concepts, and the Recovery Office would coordinate the Storm Response Fund across the wider Auckland Council Group.

“Our Healthy Waters team is working on an early flood warning system. They’ve identified 300 flooding ‘hotspots’ across the region, and will look at installing cameras integrated in the Watercare control room which is monitored 24/7.”

Part of the Storm Response Fund would be tagged for proactive maintenance, such as clearing catchpits and streams. And some seed funding would go to the proposed Making Space for Water programme.

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