Civil Defence Emergency Response Plan for Puhoi – Invitation for event: 11th August.

Dear Puhoi residents and friends from neighbouring communities,

Some of you will be aware that for several years now I have been trying to get some action on planning for a Civil Defence emergency in our valley.
You will have noticed from your reading, of Local Matters, for example, that, all around us in north Rodney, not to mention the wider Auckland region, communities are discussing and planning for the development of greater personal and household resilience in the case of such emergencies, while neighbouring areas such as Waiwera Valley and Mahurangi West have already got well-developed plans in place.
Along with Puhoi, these communities belong to the East Rodney Emergency Management Group CARRE. including Warkworth, Snells Beach, Point Wells, Omaha Beach, Leigh and other coastal areas. Some of their regular meetings are even held in Puhoi, and there is a lot of talk of radio equipment, generators etc which they have available for their own people and have offered to use to assist us in an emergency.
However, the impracticality of that in the face of our geography and reliance on State Highway 1  to connect us is obvious. The fact is, Puhoi needs its own plan, and its own equipment.
The main disaster events which are now recognised as possibilities to affect our catchment are: storm, flood and bush fire, all accompanied by likely loss of cellphone, landline, power and road contact.
Some of us who have lived in Puhoi for several decades will remember the floods which have turned the central settlement into a lake, and all of us will be aware of the impossibility of escaping or entering Puhoi because of frequent accidents and traffic holdups on the state highway, even those simply caused by motorists getting out of Auckland on holiday weekends.
We have to be prepared to be self-sufficient within our own valley, which is really a series of mini catchments, many with their own creeks, and the potential for power outages and trees falling across roads and blocking bridges.
Discussing these concerns with kind CARRE friends when it is Puhoi’s turn to host their regular meetings, the advice they have given me as a temporary solution is for us to strengthen Neighbourhood Support, a loose form of which already operates in some parts of Puhoi.
I was very pleased to see a good turnout from J. Tolhopf Road, for example, at our recent Puhoi Community Forum meeting, when they came to discuss the roading problems on their own
doorstep and on the Ahuroa Hill.
Although not strictly a Civil Defence matter, I was heartened to see how well that community seemed to be working together, and to be able to put faces and names on a large residential subdivision so far from, but neighbours of, central Puhoi village.
I trust the residents of Remiger Road,Tunnel Road and its side roads all know their own neighbours and have their own plans for looking after each other when central Puhoi becomes a lake and residents from one side of the village cannot reach home because Krippner Road, Saleyards Road, Puhoi and Ahuroa Roads are all cut off from each other.
In such a situation, coming home from work probably almost a decade ago, I was so desperate to reach my house in 24 Ahuroa Road from the opposite side of the lake that I ditched my car outside the church and started wading. Soon, at the intersection with Krippner Road, I was swimming – not a good situation, you will appreciate!
In a similar flood, a motorist standing on the roof of her car at the same intersection, with water up to the top of the compulsory stop sign there, was rescued by former Puhoi River Canoe Hire owner Cody Mankelow, who came paddling along in a kayak!
Thank God, we have not seen such drastic flooding for several years now – maybe the old pattern of heavy rainfall which lasted three days has changed – I, who live right on the river, and the librarians who have to get down there on a weather warning and put the books up high, are certainly grateful that we have not had a serious flood for years.
But can we be certain we will always be safe?
For around three years I have been searching for the right person with the skills and experience to head a team prepared to help put together a plan for such events, but it was not to be. So I am taking a different approach, and I am looking at you!
On Sunday afternoon, August 11 this year, I am proposing a community gathering to share experiences and ideas leading to the formation of a Civil Defence Emergency Response  Plan for Puhoi.
Our hall committee is kindly giving us the use of the building at no cost and Melanie Hutton,  Auckland City’s Community Resilience Manager, and her colleagues are coming to guide discussion and help us in making some decisions. I have invited local police, Fire Brigade, Neighbourhood Support, , Police Community Patrols, CARRE and neighbouring groups to share their experience at setting up such groups, and other local organisations experienced in community work of this nature.
Auckland Emergency Management is giving us some funding to run the afternoon, which I feel is best invested in providing some afternoon tea for the comfort of us all, and will help a local catering business.
As the hall is providing its facilities at no cost to the community, I propose to set up their tables around the sides of the room and make free ‘stall’ space available to all the aforementioned organisations to promote the work they do and to give out information on community initiatives of this nature. And in between these stands I will offer the remaining tables as free ‘stalls’ for our Puhoi clubs and businesses to make use of if they wish to show off or sell their produce, their antiques, their food preserves and chutneys, their beauty treatments, their handcrafts etc.
Jenny Schollum, does the Heritage Museum Society still have those photos of earlier floods we once put together? That might make a good display!
I think our Tuesday morning craft group is already making its plans for using some of this free space, and I envisage plant sales, and small, local businesses bringing or advertising ‘product’. (Not Puhoi Green, please)
No sales of unpackaged food, please, as we will be catering for that with afternoon tea.
There might be some music, and, I hope, lots of people wandering around talking, looking, greeting, asking, for an hour or so, when we will all sit down with our cup of tea and our cake and get stuck into the main thing, the discussion of concerns and provisions for community action in the case of a CD emergency.
 
Possible loose timetable for August 11.
  • 1pm – hall opens for people using ‘stall’ space (larger or smaller hall tables plus a hall chair or two) to set up ‘business’ – sacks of horse manure and firewood will have to be sold outside the hall door! So will horses.
  • 1.30pm – the public comes in and wanders round the stalls. And talks.
  • 2pm – a light afternoon tea is brought out.
  • 2.30pm – stalls are packed up and everybody takes their seat in the centre of the hall.
  • 3pm – Discussion, guided by Auckland City Community Resilience Management team starts.
  • 4.30pm – Discussion session ends.
People stay on, if they wish, to talk and help with hall cleanup.
Please note:
1. The afternoon is not intended to cost anyone anything to participate, although a bucket might be circulated to give something to the hall committee for their fundraising.
2. Since everybody’s input into the discussion will be needed and valued, staying to the end of the session, including by people given free stall space, will be appreciated.
What to do next:
1. Think about how you or your club or organisation can contribute a ‘stall’ (not selling NZ Green) to make the afternoon sociable and fun.
2. Email me when you are ready to reserve a space. (Judith Williams <bohemia1863@gmail.com>)
ENDS
Judith Williams
Puhoi NS/CD