Opinion: Natural disaster not the only disaster facing the Bay

3 comments
Homelessness is one of the unnatural disasters facing the Bay of Plenty. Photo/File
Homelessness is one of the unnatural disasters facing the Bay of Plenty. Photo/File

Will it or wont it, yeah-nah, maybe not this time but, if not now, when will it hit us? Yes, I am talking about the tectonic plates kissing each other off the east coast and sending us a tsunami, but I am also referring to two other unnatural disasters we can do something about before they hit.

The key to surviving them all is good old boy scouts dib dib philosophy - "be prepared". If your preparation is poor the fallout is so much more serious when a wall of water or any other disaster heads our way.

As for the big wave bullet we seem to have dodged last Friday morning, I found it almost funny when I heard a late night announcer on the radio, calmly claim, "maybe it will trigger a tsunami, maybe it won't, so let's play another song and see what happens". That was about 4:42am.

Then a female announcer comes on around 5am to say run or bike, don't drive! And head for the hills. No mention about a horse - the local mode of transport on the East Coast.

Her mixed message was a panui for panic and it didn't recede until just over an hour after the quake, when finally, a maybe it will, was downgraded into a maybe it won't. But by then the horse and the wall of water heading toward the coast would have bolted.

A wall is what my team has finally hit at Te Tuinga.

For the first time ever we had to close our door last Friday to take time out from another tsunami, the homeless one that has hit us over the winter. Just to get a grip on the size of the homeless tsunami here in the Bay - that has supposedly got plenty enough for everyone. We have been processing up to 10 emergency housing interventions in a morning, yet our contract is for five a week.

My team is tired and, not wanting to sound like a whinger, so am I.

It is heart breaking, challenging work when you can't help homeless whanau and if we don't put an action plan together - as we have for a tsunami alert, then we will be one winter away from ghettoizing Tauranga and Rotorua.

The city is about to elect a new mayor and surely this deserves as much attention as sewerage and the other crap being bandied about as priorities for vote seekers?

The other tsunami coming our way is a generation of juice junkies.

If we naively believe by locking up every gang member in the country and rehabbing every P addict, we will stop the tidal wave of illegal substances our communities are drowning in then we need to think again. Drugs are drugs at the front line and alcohol in our line of work still counts for 80 percent of the problems we deal with and I suspect the figures will be the same for the police and hospitals.

Until we stop glamorising one drug and demonising another then the only winner will be the booze barons.

The madness for me is not the meth - and yes it is an evil insidious pirau taniwha, but until we recognise alcohol as being an equally destructive drug, we will be simply reshuffling the deck chairs on the titanic waiting for the disaster to hit.

The taniwha in the whare for Maori is the same elephant in the house for our Caucasian cousins and we both need strong leadership to stand up against the destruction alcohol is causing in our communities. In the last weeks we have lost whanau and friends to grog and meth and the madness for me is we celebrate their passing with more of the same drug that killed them.

Planning in preparation for what is coming for any disaster is the key.

Some serious questions have been asked, and more need to be, when it comes to preparing for the big one, not if - but when it comes, as scientists and social workers seem to be saying.

The takeaway from this dummy run should be the sobering fact that when the big one hit Fukushima, they had eight minutes to get to higher ground and equally troubling is there was a 7.2 quake two weeks before.

The sobering fact about so many facing homelessness and our kids turning into juice junkies should be equally concerning.

broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Wilson is a best-selling local author and writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 02 Oct 2016 12:06:38 Processing Time: 561ms