Council response after Bank Peninsula community cut off by storm 'could have been better'

A dropout on Goughs Rd due to storm damage on Banks Peninsula. Photo: Marie Haley
A dropout on Goughs Rd due to storm damage on Banks Peninsula. Photo: Marie Haley
A review of the response to a summer storm that swept away the road to Banks Peninsula's Goughs Bay shows  Christchurch City Council did not set up an emergency operations centre until almost a week after the deluge.

Torrential rain on December 15 last year set off a series of giant mudslides in Goughs Bay, threatening at least one home during a terrifying night for trapped farmers and their families.

The downpour sent slips from summit to sea, cutting roads, power and phone lines and leaving people stranded for days.

A council review of its response to the storm obtained by RNZ shows civil defence emergency management (CDEM) staff received reports of damage in the eastern bays the following day.

A farmer brought a council staff member to Goughs Bay to see the devastation first-hand that weekend, but an emergency centre was not established until 21 December.

The council identified 18 suggested areas for improvement based on feedback, centred around complaints it took too long to establish people's safety and discover the extent of the damage.

Flooding in Goughs Bay in December. Photo: Supplied
Flooding in Goughs Bay in December. Photo: Supplied
A community meeting was held in Akaroa in May to discuss residents' concerns about the emergency response, which left some feeling isolated and forgotten.

A summary of the discussion notes the council's CDEM manager Brenden Winder acknowledged the response "could have been better" and it was committed to activating a co-ordinated response earlier in future.

The council plans to make a number of improvements, including activating emergency operations centres early, initial infrastructure reconnaissance by helicopter in inaccessible areas with a closer link with Civil Defence and better communication.

Civil Defence and the council also plan to build strong community links and local response plans to prepare for the next emergency situation.

Weeks after the storm Goughs Bay farmers were still cut off by road, forced to hike over a saddle to neighbouring Paua Bay or navigate the treacherous farm track by quad bike.

The road is still being repaired, but they can now drive to their properties.

Farmers at the bottom of the bay lost 30 kilometres of fencing, with tonnes of logs, boulders and rubbish swept to the valley floor, which was choked in brown, silty sludge.





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