Council’s COVID-19 support to continue as long as New Zealand remains on alert
Since 23 March the Kāpiti Coast District Council’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been helping Kāpiti locals get through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EOC began operation before the Government declared a National State of Emergency and has been helping to make sure the local community is well informed on what central Government was asking them to do and that residents most in need had access to food, clothing, and other essential items to keep them healthy, safe and warm.
Although the EOC was stood down last Friday (22 May) its daily jobs will be folded back into business as usual at the Council but the strong connections and relationships built with the many welfare and volunteer groups and emergency management colleagues across the region who have served Kāpiti so well through this pandemic will remain.
While the pandemic response is being led by the Ministry of Health, New Zealand’s emergency management system played a critical role in combatting COVID-19.
Kāpiti’s EOC was run under the umbrella of the Wellington Regional Management Office which in turn took its direction from The National Emergency Management Agency.
The Centre was staffed by anywhere between 5 and 25 Council employees at any one time and during the peak of alert levels 4 and 3, two shifts per week were running seven days a week.
Many staff were doing jobs quite different to their usual roles.
James Jefferson who acted as the EOC Controller says the response was truly unique in its nature.
“All the planning in the world has not prepared anyone for this event.
“For example, in a major seismic event, usually we are faced with people who are forced out of their homes but this time around everyone was being asked to stay home.
“There was little interruption to the essential services that can be badly affected during a natural disaster like power, water or roads but we still had the most vulnerable people in need of our help.
“We were able to make sure nearly 200 people got essential supplies during alert levels 4 and 3 and we acted as a backstop to the foodbanks and welfare organisations out there, so I’m really proud of the team and the hard work they put in.
“Additionally, the ‘on the ground’ community information we were able to feed back to our central government partner agencies has proved very valuable in terms of policy settings and providing a more targeted response to those most in need.
“While our EOC may be shutting down for now the Council will continue to support the response for as long as New Zealand remains on alert. We still have a long way to go in our fight against COVID-19 and it’s critically important that we all continue to observe the alert level 2 rules and work collaboratively to support our community to recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” says James.
The Council’s website will continue to be updated with information about where to access support and changes to Council services.