Emergency response plan progress pleases

Carisbrook School pupils Jake Cairns (6) and Makayla Donnelly (6) duck for cover in Dunedin as...
Carisbrook School pupils Jake Cairns (6) and Makayla Donnelly (6) duck for cover in Dunedin as part of a nationwide earthquake drill yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Seventeen of 42 "priority" Otago communities identified as needing an emergency response plan have one in place.

The other 25 are working on one, but the response so far is pleasing, Emergency Management Otago says.

The organisation, which includes representatives from the Otago Regional Council and the five local councils in Otago, is helping communities to develop emergency response plans tailored to reflect local hazards, resources and circumstances.

Arrowtown, Gibbston, Jacks Point-Kelvin Peninsula, Kingston, Lake Hawea, Shotover Country-Lake Hayes, Makarora, Mosgiel-Taieri, Cromwell, Naseby-Ranfurly-Maniototo, Kakanui, Kurow and Waitaki Bridge have already finished tailored emergency responses.

Clutha Valley, New Haven, Pounawea and Kaka Point have recently updated previous plans.

Emergency Management Otago director Chris Hawker said many Otago communities could be isolated by a lengthy or widespread emergency and it was good to see residents were ensuring they were prepared for any situation.

"In Otago we understand the challenges of responding to adverse events, and we've seen quite a lot of them in the last couple of years. Just a few weeks ago Glenorchy was isolated by fallen trees after a snowstorm, and last November Roxburgh lost power, water, sewerage and road access because of a cloudburst overhead."

Each response plan took into account the area's hazards, provided information on how to prepare for them and what each community should do in the event of different types of emergency, Mr Hawker said.

Otago regional councillors were updated on the community response plans yesterday.

The update to councillors coincided with a nationwide earthquake preparedness drill yesterday, in which 31,000 Otago people or groups participated.

The New Zealand Shake Out was held at 9.30am, when people ducked for cover and those in coastal areas also performed a "tsunami hikoi" and made for higher ground.

At Carisbrook School in Dunedin, principal Ben Sincock said his pupils stayed under cover for about two minutes, before assembling outside for a roll call.

"If there is an earthquake, it is going to be chaotic, even if we practise and are prepared."

 - Zahra Shahtahmasebi

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