Waikato not ready for emergency

Waikato district's ability to recover from a civil defence emergency needs  ''greater attention'' with an assessment report scoring the district council 10 out of 100.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management helped conduct a capability report of the Waikato district as part of its assessment of councils comprising the Waikato Valley Emergency Operating Area.

The assessment gave Waikato District Council's ability to recover from a civil defence emergency 10 out of a 100, saying ''this goal is the sole responsibility of the council to deliver and as such this goal would benefit from greater attention.''

However the report also noted the council's score was in line with the wider Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and national results ''which combined with the ongoing experience of the Christchurch earthquake, demonstrate that recovery is the 'poorer cousin' of the national strategy goals.''

The target is 80 and above, while a score of between 40 to 80 is regarded as satisfactory.

A score of below 40 requires attention.

The council scored 44.4 for readiness which includes its coordination of public education programmes on hazards and risks.

Response, enhancing capability to manage emergencies, reaped the council its highest score of 71.6.

Reduction, reducing the risks from hazards, scored 53.4.

The council received an overall score of 50.9.

On a fifth goal of ensuring all agencies had the structures and authorities to be able to reduce risks, be ready for, respond to and recover from civil defence emergencies, it received 50.1 out of 100.

Waikato Mayor Allan Sansonnts said as a result of the self assessment, the council was undertaking civil defence training exercises to assist in developing its ability to respond to emergencies.

''Our council is also actively participating in the national earthquake drill ShakeOut...to test our preparedness for a disaster,'' Mr Sanson said.

More than 1 million people have registered for the ShakeOut on September 26 this year. The exercise, which starts at 9.26am, encourages people to ''drop, cover and hold'' during a one-minute earthquake drill.

Last year the Waikato CDEM Group adopted a five-year plan designed to improve the Waikato's ability to respond to disaster after an assessment by the Civil Defence Ministry raised concerns about its ability to handle a large emergency.

The Waikato was given a mark of 44.7 per cent, the lowest score of all regions in New Zealand.

Waikato CDEM Group public information manager Stephen WardntsTnte said the capacity building that had gone on had given the wider Group a significantly improved capability to support individual councils in their emergency responses.

Waikato Times