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Vero’s Support Making Inroads Into Community Flood Resilience In Whakatane

Vero’s community investment into building flood resilience in vulnerable communities in Whakatane is showing green shoots of promise, as the three NGO recipients of the insurer’s flood resilience natural hazard resilience support are using the 2021 $140,000 donation to build natural hazard resilience awareness and responsiveness in their local communities.

Vero launched the community investment initiative in 2021 to Whakatane Neighbourhood Support; two Whakatane Community Emergency Response Team’s (CERTs); and Trees That Count in Whakatane after identification of natural hazard resilience as a priority environmental and social issue to the area.

Whakatane was chosen due to its high risk of flooding, high percentage of elderly and vulnerable residents and the impact of the work community groups were already doing there to support both flood resilience and community vulnerability.

To date, Vero’s donation has enabled the Whakatane Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to order a customised emergency response trailer to help deliver residents with emergency supplies when evacuations are required.

Whakatane Neighbourhood Support used the funds for an additional employee and purchased new computers and technology for their offices. With the new equipment, the not for profit were able to upgrade and update their emergency response database which identifies those households that are home to the more vulnerable in the community so that they can be prioritised in an emergency.

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Vero’s commitment to Trees That Count in Whakatane has funded the planting of 6,000 trees along the Whakatane riverbank, contributing to greenhouse gas reduction; increased flood resilience; and biodiversity restoration in the region.

Suncorp New Zealand’s Executive Manager Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Carly Orr, says since providing the community investment, Vero has continued to work with leaders from the three charities to further their work and to assist the groups to maximise the investment into the community.

The insurer has also led the development of an emergency response survey in the Whakatane community to assist in measuring the impact of the emergency preparedness work in place.

“Our goals for this initiative were to support and enhance community flood resilience in Whakatane, and also enhance our understanding on what is required across New Zealand. We hope that our adding our expertise will build greater awareness of the role of insurance and what people can do to minimise the risk of flood on their properties and communities.

“Vero’s support is building on the fantastic work Whakatane has already done to create flood resilience. Together, we’re taking tangible steps to improve outcomes for communities who experience extreme weather events.”

Whakatane Neighbourhood Support Area Coordinator, Jane Fox says Vero’s support over the past year and the expertise Vero has on natural hazard disaster preparedness has provided a huge boost to the group’s provision of information and building awareness of disaster preparedness in the community.

“Vero’s support is enabling us to refocus and reinvigorate our efforts on identifying those in the community that are most vulnerable to the impacts of any future natural disaster, and providing relevant information on flood and disaster preparedness in the event an evacuation or similar is necessary.”

“With Vero’s support we’re monitoring the effects of this work, alongside the work of other community groups in the region, and though we’re in the early stages of this survey process, the outcomes are looking promising.”

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