Civil Defence warning: Be prepared for disasters

Flooding in Edgecumbe in April.
Flooding in Edgecumbe in April.

Getting accustomed to Civil Defence planning and preparedness should be a farmer's priority says Federated Farmers.

Throughout last week, Civil Defence was raising public awareness with their "Get Ready Week" promotion that coincides with International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction last Thursday.

"The message should be loud and clear to all farmers," says Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard.

"No one can predict when the next natural disaster could hit. If there's a big earthquake it's possible a tsunami could come. A volcanic eruption say in the Central North Island can't be ruled out either.

"Be prepared and get informed. The flooding events this year are a wake-up call and still having significant impact on farmers and their communities. If you're not considering a plan to get you through, you're potentially risking your business and livelihood."

Farmers should be prepared to meet the challenges thrown up by not only our country's variable climate, but also the active nature of its geology.

Consider the worst case scenario and identify what would be priority, says Mr Hoggard.
"Talk through with your staff potential situations. Something could happen while you're off farm and they will be left to deal with potentially a crisis.

"It's possible the farm could get isolated and so consider what that means for staff."

Federated Farmers has been actively involved in the response and recovery following the recent Otago and Bay of Plenty flood events and last November's Kaikoura-Hurunui earthquake.

One consistent theme has been loss of power which has effectively immobilised affected farms in the immediate aftermath.

"We know from experience that when an 'event' happens rural people are generally the last to receive help. This means vital infrastructure such as power and phones can be down for weeks.

"You are likely to wait indefinitely if your situation is considered not life-threatening.
"I recall the 2004 lower North Island storm when we lost power for three days. Luckily we had an old generator to keep us going. We've since upgraded to a more powerful one now. I just couldn't contemplate not having that plan B.

"We also have an analogue phone that doesn't rely on power, and these days you can charge cellphones in cars and trucks, and remember a spare full gas bottle for the barbecue."

Andrew recommends farmers also check what is insurable. You might be surprised what you can insure.

"You might not think it's relevant beforehand but you may want to get an idea where you stand with those farm assets. Like all good scouts will tell you ... be prepared."

- Te Awamutu Courier

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