If a natural disaster struck Gisborne, it would take emergency services three hours to establish the coordination center.
This is because the Tairāwhiti civil defense team does not have a permanent center of its own, but instead operates from the Gisborne District Council buildings, a site that would be inundated by a major tsunami.
But that must change, with $ 1 million set aside for a new emergency coordination center and a marked location.
Council staff have recommended that a new emergency coordination center be built on council-owned land on Potae Avenue within the Lytton West Reserve.
The proposed location is near the Gisborne Hospital, which has a helipad and emergency water supply.
It would allow for a specially designed facility that could operate effectively after a disaster, given that it is outside the risk model for tsunami and flood prone areas, according to a staff report.
Councilors supported the recommendation at Wednesday’s emergency management and civil defense committee meeting, saying it “makes sense.”
Detailed designs are expected in December, with the center expected to be complete by the middle to the end of next year.
Civil defense emergency manager Ben Green told the committee yesterday: “If we had to activate today, it would take my team three hours to set up this space in order to execute a response.”
Councilmember Kerry Worsnop said the proposed location was incredible, but noted that it was eliminated by a couple of Kaiti bridges.
“Most of the reason we have needed to relocate is due to the tsunami that will presumably affect the bridges, which means that potentially part of our community will be cut off from this center.
“Does that mean we need some other center of some kind, or at least a community point of contact? We have a huge population on that side of the river that will potentially not have access to this.”
Green said Worsnop had summed up the challenge Gisborne presented.
“You have a river that divides your city in three.”
Green said the risk model indicated why they were going to that area of the city, to coordinate and get a response.
“Kaiti really is indicative of how we’ve approached community readiness for the entire region.
“Our community link structures – we have strategically identified them, and how we can support people with communications so that they have the ability to truly respond to their needs is the focus of how we are going to do it.”
Funding was reserved in the Long Term Plan 2021-31 after both that plan and the region’s Covid-19 recovery plan included the need for an emergency center.
A playground is located at the north end of Lytton West Reserve.
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