West Coasters response to storm a credit to the community
Minister of Civil Defence Hon Kris Faafoi has spent the day on the West Coast of the South Island, visiting communities affected by the ex-Tropical Cyclone Fehi storm that lashed New Zealand last week.
Mr Faafoi met with mayors in Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport, as well as regional council, civil defence teams and affected residents and businesses.
“The storm has done some major damage, but in true Coast style people are getting on with it. Communities have rallied and helped each other, but some families may still need assistance. I will go back to Wellington with better understanding having seen the impacts first-hand and can share with my colleagues across government.”
Mr Faafoi says that while NZTA appears to be progressing roading issues, it may take some time for things to return to normal.
“I’ve seen for myself the significant challenges to infrastructure, but meeting with the local mayors has also given us a chance to have the initial conversations about any assistance local councils may require as they continue to progress through recovery. We will work with local councils to offer assistance if required.”
Mr Faafoi says the visit also provided an opportunity to meet with iwi.
“I’ve spoken to representatives from two local marae about their experience last week. This has been useful as we also work through the process of responding to the review of the Civil Defence system [released on January 18 and available here], which identified the key contribution iwi can make in emergencies.
“We will continue to engage with iwi and communities over the next few months before finalising thinking on the review recommendations. While it’s devastating for the community, we need to use what we learn here on the West Coast to improve how we respond in future.”
Minister for Rural Communities Hon Damien O’Connor, who is the MP for West Coast/Tasman, also travelled to the region last Friday.
“It was a tough scene but we got stuck in, pulling up wet carpet and moving belongings. The hardest-hit areas still need our support.”