28/11/2018 5:00:00 p.m.
28 November 2018
Building community resilience is now a key focus as the Flood Recovery Office wraps up its service.
Rotorua Lakes Council established a Flood Recovery Office in the wake of the severe weather event in April, which saw widespread flooding across Rotorua. Ninety-four homes were issued with insanitary notices, displacing those families.
Out of those 94, 21 families are yet to return home. With residents’ recoveries progressing, the Flood Recovery Office will close, but help and support is still available to flood-affected residents.
Rotorua Lakes Council Recovery Manager Andy Bell says partner agencies including the Temporary Accommodation Service and Ministry of Social Development and council staff would still be on hand to help those displaced, if needed.
Rotorua Lakes Council still has a Civil Defence co-ordinator who is tasked with building community resilience.
Andy says Council's Civil Defence co-ordinator has already been working with various groups and organisations to build community response plans which will help in any future emergencies.
“The flooding unfortunately affected a lot of people,” Andy says.
“But the kaiārahi (navigators) who were employed by Council really helped those who were affected.”
He says the community support after the flood was overwhelming.
“It was great to see so many people open their homes or offer donations of goods, support and money. It had been really appreciated by those who were affected.”
The team from the Flood Recovery Office, as well as representatives from Rotorua Red Cross Disaster Support Welfare Team and Fire and Emergency NZ including Rotorua Volunteer Fire Brigade Operational Support unit, were in Ngongotaha this week handing out Welcome Home Packs to affected residents.
“This is a small gesture from Rotorua Lakes Council and our partners to those who were displaced after the severe flooding in April,” Andy says.
The packs were put together with the generous support of several local businesses.
“A lot of people had to leave their homes and it has been a long journey for them to get back home. We wanted them to feel supported in their recovery and hope this is a small token to help them settle back into their homes.”
In addition to the Welcome Home Packs, Grab and Go bags were also handed out.
New Zealand Red Cross Disaster Management Officer Gavin Newton said the organisation wanted to contribute to the post-flood recovery as residents returned home.
The organisation raised $20,000 to purchase Grab and Go bags to hand out to affected residents.
Helping hand them out was also a way of reconnecting with the community after helping out in the days immediately after the flooding.
Gavin says readiness is an integral part of Civil Defence, which was why they were keen to take part.
“The most important component of recovery is communication, especially communication with the community therefore the Welcome Home Packs are an excellent opportunity for key agencies in our local community to promote a holistic approach to recovery as well as capture the learnings, which considers both the diversity of community needs pre-event and the opportunities that exist post-event to reduce future hazards and their associated risks.”