8 May 2018

Piha residents call for emergency plan

From Checkpoint, 6:16 pm on 8 May 2018

Residents in Piha on Auckland's west coast say a formal emergency plan for the area is urgently needed after two severe floods and two power cuts, all in the space of four months.

The Waitākere Ranges Local Board said the recent weather events had been a wake-up call and it was organising a meeting between Civil Defence and key leaders in the community about what needed to be done.

Those living on Glenesk Road are still cleaning up debris from last month's powerful flood, which damaged properties and closed roads.

It was the latest in a series of extreme weather events, which included an eight-day power cut only weeks before.

Barry Watt said the flooding was the worst he had seen in the 60 years he had been in the area.

"There [were] lots of twigs and branches ... along the fence line which will take me months to clean up," he said.

"[The water] came up close to the top of the fence and about 1.5 metres at the back."

Mr Watt said he was concerned there would be more to come as winter approaches and a concrete emergency plan was crucial.

Flooded Piha camping ground

Recent flooding at the Piha camping ground Photo: Facebook / Piha Domain camping ground

Heidi Padain - who has been in area for more than 20 years - agreed there were gaps.

"We are likely to see more extreme weather events and we definitely need to have something a little bit more solid in place than what we have currently and I'm not even sure what we have currently," she said.

Ms Padain said while there was frustration among some people in the community who thought the Waitākere Ranges Local Board should have been more organised, finger pointing was not constructive.

The Piha Store owner Peter Chapman.

The Piha Store owner Peter Chapman. Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

Peter Chapman is well-known in the community, having owned The Piha Store for the last 17 years.

He will be going to the meeting but while he thinks it is needed, he said people had to accept that the isolated location required resilience.

"If there is to be a way forward where you do draw those various groups in and bring the strands together and create something that says 'this is what we want to create', yeah sure," he said.

"But I think what will happen is, it will sift a few people out."

Waitākere Ranges Local Board member Sandra Coney accepted that there needed to be a proper plan.

"There have been plans in the past but personnel have changed, things have changed and it's time to really update it," she said.

But Ms Coney said local emergency services had been quick to respond to the events.

The meeting will involve discussing how everything was handled and where improvements could be made and would take place in the next few weeks, she said.