A Disaster Like This – How Does Waimakariri Civil Defence Respond?

Civil Defence is not an army ready to spring into action, although we do have small response teams – all of which have been active since the Earthquake.

The central body is the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) located in the Council Chamber.  An emergency power supply is available there.

The central people are the Controllers, rostered on one at a time (we ran this one mainly with  three of us) , and the Council’s Civil Defence Officers, Brennan Wiremu and Alicia Palmer.

There are five functional areas within the EOC, all Council staff pulled out of their normal jobs, although during this major emergency, they were bolstered by people sent from other councils (ranging from the Far North to Invercargill), volunteers, and other council staff.  An example of the latter were our swimming pool staff from Kaiapoi, who have been doing a great job.  The functional areas are:

  • Operations – which basically makes sure things happen.  The Police and Fire are part of this although the Police didn’t hang around, just keeping in contact.
  • Planning and Intelligence – keeping the records, keeping the big picture in front of the EOC.
  • Logistics – accessing material and supplies – everything from teaspoons to helicopters.
  • Welfare – looking after people, from food to accommodation to counselling to information services.
  • Communications – media releases, updating the website, preparing newsletters, etc.

Beyond that, there are all the links with the Government itself, with Government agencies (WINZ, Housing NZ, the Defence Force, EQC, etc.), other agencies like the Insurance Council and Enterprise North Canterbury – as well, of course, with the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and the national equivalent in Wellington within the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Within the Council a Recovery Committee was up and running very early – led by Simon Markham.

And then there are the guys out in the field – Council managers and staff dealing with roads, water, sewers, building safety, people’s welfare and so on.  The Fire Brigades from all over North Canterbury have been involved.  The Police have been brilliant.  Alongside them have be a host of volunteers from the University, Rotary, Community Max, the Amateur Radio Club, the Salvation Army, a large number of voluntary social agencies – an endless list.  They all go to show that we have a resilient and caring community.

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