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12:00am Friday 06th August 2021

During the Canterbury floods in late May/early June we truly welcomed the support from other Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups including Nelson/Tasman, Wellington, Waikato and Manawatū Whanganui that sent their staff to help in our Emergency Coordination Centre to coordinate the mahi of local Emergency Operation Centers (EOC), emergency services and other agencies that work together to make sure our communities are looked after.  

Just a few weeks later in July, MetService issued further red severe weather warnings for other parts of the South Island. Once we knew that across Canterbury there weren’t significant issues from the weather, we didn’t think twice when our neighbouring CDEM Groups – West Coast CDEM and Marlborough CDEM – needed some support to maintain the hard mahi of their EOCs and wider communities to respond to the floods.

Over the course of the last three weeks a total of 59 Cantabrians from local Councils in Kaikoura, Hurunui, Waimakariri, Christchurch, Selwyn and Mackenzie, as well as the Canterbury CDEM Group Office, deployed to Westport and Marlborough.

40 of them were trained CDEM volunteers, coming from various New Zealand Response Teams, including NZRT1, NZRT10, NZRT11, NZRT12, NZRT14, Selwyn RT as well as Christchurch and Selwyn Emergency Support Teams. This awesome bunch were some of the first that headed over to Westport, and undertook tasks like helping with evacuations, deliveries to Civil Defence Centres, welfare checks, and rapid damage assessments of buildings and homes.

The other 19 people were EOC staff, of which 14 went to Buller District Council and 5 to Marlborough District Council. Many of them are part of our Canterbury 10 EOC Support Team – short “C10”. This is a team of experienced and well-trained staff that can go on short notice to another EOC to work alongside the local staff and experts. While the main purpose of C10 is to have strong surge capacity within Canterbury, the team is just as readily available to help further afield.

Several Cantabrians also went as part of the NZ Emergency Management Assistance Team (EMAT) – a national cadre of specially trained experienced emergency managers who can go wherever needed to assist local teams to manage emergencies.

We want to thank each and everyone who was involved in this massive team effort. Those who deployed, those who kept things going at home and at the office while their whānau and colleagues were away, the many other helpers from all over NZ, and of course our wonderful hosts and the communities on the West Coast and in Marlborough for all they’ve done and keep doing as they move into recovery. It’s been a privilege to work alongside you!  

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