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Learnings to be had from 2023 severe weather events

23 Apr 2024, 3:33 PM

A report detailing the findings of the Government Inquiry into the North Island Severe Weather Events of early 2023 has been welcomed by Western Waikato Emergency Management (WWEM).

The Inquiry covers Cyclone Hale (8-12 January 2023); heavy rainfall in the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty regions (26 January – 3 February 2023); and Cyclone Gabrielle (12-16 February 2023).

Communities within Western Waikato, comprising Waipā, Ōtorohanga and Waitomo District Councils, were significantly impacted by the three weather events, particularly the Waitomo district, which experienced widespread flooding, slips and road blockages.

Emergency Management Operations Manager and Local Controller David Simes, says Council staff from across the three Western Waikato Councils, support organisations and community volunteers rallied together during all three weather events to support the wider community during their time of need.

“It can be difficult when these kinds of inquiries and reports are released. Reflecting on emergencies can be overwhelming and can cause old feelings to resurface.

“But our teams worked together very well, and every emergency provides us with important lessons and the opportunity to make improvements to our structures, systems, and processes.”

As part of the wider Waikato Group, WWEM has also undertaken its own review into the response to these events, conducted by an external provider.

“This was delivered to us late 2023. We have accepted all recommendations and are working to include these in our work programme; many of which align with other reviews nationally,” says David.

Short, medium and long-term recovery activities have focused on addressing the immediate needs of the community, but also incorporating opportunities to build resilience to future emergencies in impacted areas.

David says while these reviews and reports are released, there are communities which are still in active recovery from these events.

“There have been some amazing stories of resilience and communities working together on local initiatives. Some projects still have a long way to go and will carry on for months or years. We will continue to support locally driven recovery efforts as they continue.”

The full report can be found here.