A devolved Civil Defence model is on the table for Hawke’s Bay.
The performance of the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (HBCDEM) Group is about to be reviewed, in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
The terms of reference for the review should be signed off at a meeting of the HBCDEM Joint Committee — made up of Hawke’s Bay’s mayors and council chief executives — on June 26.
As part of that, community groups will be asked to contribute plans that could take direct responsibility for emergency responses out of the HBCDEM Group’s hands.
The regional model was adopted in 2011, when Ian Macdonald was appointed to run HBCDEM. Prior to that, individual councils had overseen the running of community-led Civil Defence groups.
Macdonald remains in charge of the HBCDEM Group and cautioned the most recent Joint Committee meeting that a review into February’s disaster response should not be about “apportioning blame”.
Instead, if the comments of HBCDEM Joint Committee chairwoman Hinewai Ormsby are anything to go by, the review might be an opportunity to revert to the model that served this region prior to August 2011.
“Yes, I am keen for a community presentation at our next HBCDEM Joint Committee meeting and for it to be highlighted and supported as it should be,’’ Ormsby told Hawke’s Bay Today.
That will gladden the heart of Richard Gaddum.
The Waimārama resident declined to disband his community’s Civil Defence group back in 2011. Instead, they retained a vehicle and equipment and argued they knew how to protect their people best.
Gaddum hosted Hawke’s Bay regional councillors Sophie Siers and Neil Kirton, Marcus Buddo from the Hastings District Council Rural Community Board, and Red Cross, at a recent meeting highlighting Waimārama’s community Civil Defence preparedness.
That didn’t escape the attention of Ormsby, who is also the chairwoman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
“Like our Waiohiki Marae programme with TPK [Te Puni Kokiri] pre-cyclone, we became an evacuation site for anyone needing us on the temporary ‘Waiohiki Island’,” said Ormsby.
“The Waimārama community are reactivating in this space, in conjunction with their district council — HDC — with support from Red Cross.
“Community resilience development and planning, especially after Gabrielle, is crucial at a local village level. Having lived through that first hand on the 14th of February, it provided the lifeline we all need to be prepared at the community level.’’
Gaddum has invited Ormsby to see the equipment and escape plans that are in place for Waimarama and Ocean Beach.
“It never stopped,’’ Gaddum said of his local Civil Defence group.
“I was a bit of a rebel and said, ‘no, go and get stuffed’, and we carried on as normal.”
All that has changed since 2011, Gaddum said, was that his group no longer has a dedicated satellite phone.
“The cyclone proved that communication was the biggest issue and, in my view, that’s the top priority,” he said.
“If we can’t communicate with each other and we can’t communicate with a central structure, we’re buggered.
“I told her [Ormsby] our sat phone was taken away and I said surely it’s not too much to ask to purchase 12 or 15 sat phones and scatter them around the region. That would be a good start.”