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Keeping up with Culverden #3 – an event and change of leadership

The Keeping Up with Culverden series looks behind the scenes at the setting up of the Culverden Civil Defence Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Hurunui District. Last time, we followed the team as they set up a patchwork of boundaries on their GIS maps to break their zone into smaller areas for better emergency management.

Always enthusiastic, the team tonight is buzzing with extra energy.

October’s wind event provided the first taste of a real-life situation and was a test for Culverden’s preparedness.

There has been a hiatus in the full team meeting – like all CERTs, the team comprises volunteers with their own work and home commitments. However, work on the ground has continued with bringing together members of the community who have been shoulder-tapped for community Civil Defence contact network roles. These community members will report valuable information on what is happening in their patch to an activated Emergency Operations Centre during major events.

The work couldn’t have been more on point.

Culverden Civil Defence coordinator and retired farmer Gregor McKenzie and Grigg lead the team through a full debrief of the response to October’s wind event, both at district and regional level.

“Debriefs help us to appraise what worked well and what didn’t work so well, so that we can do further work to prepare us for the next event,” says Grigg. “For many in the team, this was their first event.”

During the event, members contacted potentially vulnerable people in the community to see if they needed help and were also involved in gathering information and reporting it to the Council response team.

“Over 60 homes were contacted across Hurunui, and Culverden was part of that,” says Grigg.

After the debrief, the team works together to extend the wind scenario to a workshop, looking at what they would have done if the situation had escalated. “Local events can easily escalate up to a major emergency event needing a region-wide response,” says Grigg.

The meeting ends with a surprise announcement that McKenzie is relocating away from Culverden to another part of the district. The team and Grigg are vocal in thanking McKenzie for his contribution, commitment and service to the Culverden community emergency response team.

Hayley Clark is welcomed in as the new Culverden Civil Defence coordinator. With a strong background in community service in Hurunui, she is a familiar face in the community as someone always keen to put up her hand to volunteer.

“Latest statistics show that more people volunteer in our rural areas compared to the national average and Hurunui is no exception,” says Grigg.

Civil Defence preparedness and response training is carried out across Hurunui District’s nine Civil Defence sectors of Cheviot; Hawarden-Waikari; Culverden; Hanmer Springs; Waiau; Waipara; Motunau Beach-Scargill-Greta Valley; Amberley and Mt Lyford.


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