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Workshop held to improve flood warning processes

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Greater Wellington Regional Council is among a dedicated group working to create effective flood warning processes after a report showed flood awareness and preparedness in the region needs improvement.

Representatives from Greater Wellington, Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office, MetService, Wellington Water, Friends of Waiwhetu Stream and Hutt City Council met to discuss flood warning on April 11.

The group held a workshop with a particular focus on Lower Hutt’s Waiwhetu Stream, as a result of a flood warning improvement report by four students from Worchester Polytechnic Institute USA.

The report focussed on flood risk awareness and how people would like to be alerted if a flood were to occur.

The report indicated that when the Waiwhetu stream flooded in 2004 the community had little time to prepare as the flood warning systems were insufficient to provide adequate time for evacuation.

Greater Wellington flood protection team member Andy Brown said residents needed to be aware of the risk of flooding and be given more time to evacuate in the event of a flood.

"People had to evacuate their homes at short notice in 2004 and ended up losing precious items like family photo albums.

"We want to give people enough time if they have to evacuate their homes.

"There is risk to life particularly for elderly citizens if they aren’t given enough warning," he said.

The flood warning report consisted of face-to-face interviews and online surveys with people from Waterloo, Epuni, Waiwhetu and Naenae.

The report found 83 per cent of people interviewed wanted Emergency Mobile Alerts in the event of a flood during the daytime, while 31.3 per cent preferred to be warned through an app.

The report noted recommendations for creating more awareness as well as warning people effectively, including through a website, targeted app, pamphlets and social media.

The students also found that community members were not uniformly aware of the risks of flooding.

The workshop introduced scenario injects from the 2004 flood to help workshop participants identify what actions they would take at various stages of a flood event and how everyone could work together more effectively.

By June the group intends to have a confirmed list of improvements identified. From July work will start on implementing the improvements.

Over the next five years similar pieces of work will be carried out in other parts of the region to determine if the findings from the Waiwhetu Stream community are consistent with those of other communities.

Friends of Waiwhetu Stream committee member Roy Edney says he has a particular interest in the flood warning improvement group because he lives in the area.

"We are here to represent the public. Some people in the area have already been effected by flooding, but people come and go and information is lost so it’s good to keep people up to date."

The project is part of Greater Wellington’s Long Term Plan. By 2025 it is intended that there will be a significantly improved flood warning system for the whole region.

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