(originally published in the Eastbourne Herald February 2023). More information on Eastbourne Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness.
As demonstrated so graphically in the latest weather events, the official emergency and
support services may not be able to respond to every issue and will have to prioritise. This is
especially true of the Eastern Bays as we are easily isolated and represent a small part of
Hutt City. This means communities like ours will have to pitch in and look after each other.
The most important thing is to keep up to date and informed. The failure of virtually all forms
of communication and power have been a feature of the latest disaster, with many having to
rely on radio broadcasts as their sole source of information, and unable to call out through
any channel. A battery powered AM (for better coverage) or FM radio receiver is a cheap
addition to your emergency kit, and a solar charger for your phone an additional must have.
All the information you need is available through the Wellington Regional Emergency
Management Office (WREMO) website http://wremo.nz. Everything mentioned here plus
much more is on their site so please check it out.
Locally we have the Eastbourne Community Board Facebook page, the website
Eastbourne.nz, and a digital noticeboard at the library which could be used to provide local
information, but these all depend on networks being operational.
The best way to manage an emergency is to prepare for an emergency.
There are four phases to dealing with emergencies, and two if these occur before the actual
- Reduction – minimise the possibility or outcome of an emergency by removing
hazards and causes. What can you do to reduce the consequences of an earthquake
(anchor your furniture), fire (keep trees away from your house) or flooding (keep drains
cleared) and so-on.
- Readiness – have a family plan, have resources ready such as an
escape bag, food, water, emergency toilet, spare medicines etc.
- Response – carry out your
plan, don’t wait to be told what to do.
- Recovery – have a plan and resources to deal with the
aftermath and return to normal, including how you will manage if you cannot return to your
The Eastern Bays have three Community Emergency Hubs; the Point Howard Playcentre,
Wellesley College and Muritai School. These hubs are a place for the community to
congregate and coordinate our response to assist each other. They are not reliant on the
physical building, so if the Hub becomes unsuitable, we can move to a better venue. The
Hub has a basic start-up kit consisting of an AM/FM radio, maps and a Civil Defence VHF
radio that allows communication with the wider official response if phone lines are not
working. It does not necessarily have other resources such as food, medicines, clothing,
bedding etc. These must come from the community. The Hubs may also be busy looking
after their students and will not be active until their responsibilities have been cleared, this
may take days.
Lowry Bay also has a container devoted to civil defence, and other bays may have
resources. We are also lucky to have the Eastbourne Volunteer Fire Brigade locally,
although they may be called away from the bays to support higher priority work. Red Cross
also have resources in Eastbourne. Contact the residents association for your bay to find out
There are some water tanks available (Wellesley and Muritai) but generally households
should make sure you have your own supplies for the first 7 days. 200 litre tanks are
available for around $100 through the libraries.
People may have noticed emergency water shipping containers at Lowry Bay and Days Bay.
These do not contain water, but hold the equipment to distribute water to the community
either by tanker or pumping from local sources. These may take up to 8 days to be activated
by council staff.
The Eastern Bays also have our own emergency radio network, with stations in every bay
operated by volunteers. These are all capable of running off battery power and give another
option for communication should bays become isolated for any reason.
In an emergency:
● Your first priority is to look after yourself and your household.
● If you can help or need help, go out and check with your neighbours.
● Check your neighbourhood to see what can be done.
Once you have made sure you and those near you are safe, or if you need support that
cannot be provided locally, you can go to your local Hub. You may be one of the first there,
in which case you can use the resources provided to organise yourselves and provide
support to the community. The hubs’ role will be to help people understand what is
happening, solve problems using resources and people skills the community has available,
and provide a safe gathering place for members of the community to support one another.
Don’t delay. Visit the WREMO website https://wremo.nz for detailed guidance on all aspects
of preparing for and managing an emergency within our community, and feel free to contact
the Eastbourne Community Board for further information, ideas or offers. Our local website
https://eastbourne.nz also has links to resources.