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How we’ve responded to COVID-19, drought and emergency alerting situations on the Coromandel this year

28 May 2020

Here are the highlights from what was on the agenda.

Today our Emergency Management Committee met for the first time since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. You can listen to a audio recording of the meeting here. 

COVID-19 response report:

  • Our Council had Business Continuity Plans and a Pandemic Plan in place for how staff could work and deliver services ahead of Lockdown Level 4.
  • Two controllers managed the 12-hour, seven day a week local EOC operation with over 70 staff working (from our Council, along with Matamata-Piako and Hauraki councils) to support the seven-week response through to 15 May. As support to the public has declined, the EOC was stood down in Thames and a new much larger EOC established in Hamilton to cover the Eastern and Northern Waikato councils
  • During this time, the EOC helped supply and feed over 4,000 vulnerable people and supported food banks to feed another 2,000. The focus of the response during this period was ‘welfare of people’ and the ‘safety of communities’; ensuring people could stay at home with enough food and support and to prevent others from flouting and ignoring government direction.
  • A debrief report is being compiled to capture the learnings from this period.
  • Many TCDC staff are still working from home during Alert Level 2. They have been able to do this since Level 4 with minor IT issues. It has allowed for flexibility and balance in people’s working arrangements while continuing to be productive and delivering levels of service to the public. We are reviewing this situation every month, or after the latest government advice.

You can read the full report here.  

What you still need to know about COVID-19.

Comply

  • COVID-19 is still in New Zealand - we need to continue to take care to finish the job we started to eliminate the virus.
  • Keep a 2-metre distance from people you don’t know.
  • Record where you go and who you’re with.
  • Keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

Enable

  • There are now only a small number of restrictions on our daily lives because of the hard work we’ve all done to combat the virus.
  • The limit on people gathering together will increase to 100 from midday on Friday 29 May.
  • The increased limit means many church services and sports activities can take place from this weekend.
  • Download the NZ COVID-19 Tracer app from the App and Google Play stores to keep a record of where you’ve been.
  • Many shops are limiting customer numbers to manage physical distancing – going by yourself to the supermarket will speed up wait times.

Reassure

  • If you feel sick stay home, and contact your GP or Healthline to get tested immediately.
  • Don’t delay seeking medical attention or attending routine appointments.
  • A new COVID Income Relief Payment will be available from 8 June providing $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time.

Inform

  • Retailers, including malls, marketplaces and takeaway shops, aren’t required to contact trace but must ensure customers are 2 metres apart.
  • Cabinet will reconsider the settings of Alert Level 2 on Monday 8 June and make a decision, no later than Monday 22 June, whether we can move to Alert Level 1.
  • Visit the COVID-19 website for more information on what Level 2 means.

Response to Drought on the Coromandel.

(Pictured above - Drought affecting Coromandel farm lands.)

  • Before the COVID-19 response in March, the Emergency Management Unit was also working on supporting those affected by drought on the Coromandel.  A district-wide, fully funded, water tank fill operation, funded by the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and administered by our EMU was set up so anyone who was struggling to pay for clean drinking water fills was looked after.
  • This was also in preparation for COVID-19 lockdown to make sure households had clean water so residents could stay at home in a healthy environment.
  • The operation is still in place to assist vulnerable communities in the drought, and to date approximately 1.6 million litres has been delivered to160 households, primarily servicing the smaller marae-based communities.
  • This is also a timely reminder that we still have water restrictions in some places around the Cormandel.
  • Hahei, Coromandel Town and Whitianga  - Alternate Days: The water supply is under pressure. Hoses, sprinklers and garden irrigation systems can only be used on alternate days. If your address is an even number you can use your hose on even numbered days, and vice versa for odd numbered houses.
  • Thames township, Tairua, Onemana, Matarangi, Pauanui and Whangamata – Conserve water: Residents are asked to keep using water carefully to ensure our supply continues. For more information on watre restrictions click here. 
  • If you need support with water tank fill contact our Customer Service team on 07 868 0200.

You can read the full report here.

Indoor Alerting Device (IAD) project.

  • A pilot project has been trialled where emergency alert devices can be “plugged,” into an electrical socket in a home where cell-phone coverage is sketchy, so that residents will be able to receive Civil Defence alerts.
  • Surveys have shown that the national Emergency Mobile Text Alert only has around a 40 per cent successful strike rate in the Coromandel to cellphones, due to limited cell coverage and geography. Tsunami sirens around the district are also reaching end of life or not meeting new national standards.
  • The first report into the viability of an IAD suggested it would have a 80-90 percent success strike rate in homes. We commissioned Kordia to do a peer review.
  • We commissioned Kordia Cyber Security https://www.kordia.co.nz/ to peer review this assumption, which they came back with suggesting the success rate looked to be more around 70 per cent.
  • Kordia and the IAD then discussed the assumptions, with our Emergency Management Team taking a cautionary approach. Further trials were then conducted over the 2019-2020 summer with the IADs set up in 200 homes around the Coromandel, with a 90 per cent success rate.
  • The Emergency Management Committee agreed supported further investigation of the IAD model and continue to work towards an IAD business case. “We need to get some detailed costings ahead of any further council decision is made,” says Sally Christie, chairperson of the Emergency Management Committee.