Civil Defence Emergency Management Whanganui, led by Whanganui District Council, co-ordinates a wide range of groups and agencies like Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and emergency services during an emergency.
Its role is to:
- help prevent loss of life
- help the injured and relieve distress
- help the community return to normal.
In an emergency, everyone needs to be self-reliant and prepared to survive without help in their own home for at least three days without assistance. What you do now to prepare can make a huge difference to how you and your family cope and helps emergency response services focus on people who are directly impacted.
An emergency could occur at any time in our district. Possible emergencies include:
- storms and severe weather
- volcanic eruptions
- hazardous chemical spills (industrial/transport accident)
- loss of water or power supply
- influenza pandemic.
In the case of an emergency, Civil Defence Centres may be opened if there is a need and if the resources are available. In an emergency, these centres are the base for trained volunteers who provide help, advice and guidance for evacuees or impacted members of the public.
In most emergencies you should be able to stay in your home. Plan to be able to look after yourself and your household for at least three days or more. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival items for your home as well as a portable getaway kit in case you have to leave in a hurry. You should also have essential emergency items in your workplace and in your car.
Civil Defence needs people to take responsibility for their own safety in an emergency. Everyone should understand that they are responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them. The Neighbourhood Support system, extended to include Civil Defence, is the best way to gain an effective community self-help response. People may have to fend for themselves for up to three days while urgent rescue and response activities are occurring.
Make the following simple preparations:
- Prepare a plan with your family.
- Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to meet.
- Know how and where to turn off mains electricity, gas and water.
- Learn First Aid.
- Have an emergency survival kit and a getaway kit and ensure everyone in your household knows where they are kept.
- Join a Neighbourhood Support Group. Contact the Neighbourhood Support office on phone 348 0568 for more details.
- In most emergencies you should be able to stay at home or at your workplace. In this situation, you may have to rely on your emergency survival kit. Each kit should have items that the whole family will need.
As a start, gather these items together:
- A torch with spare batteries or light sticks
- A transistor radio and spare batteries (there is a radio in your car)
- A First Aid kit
- Tinned food for two to three days for you and your pets
- A can opener
- Bottled water (3 litres per person per day)
- A box of matches or lighter
- Toilet paper
Add other items that your family will need e.g. baby food and nappies.
Remember tinned items, water and batteries need to be checked and changed every six months. Make a note on your calendar to do this at daylight saving changeover time.
Take your survival kit plus:
- Legal documents and important papers: birth, marriage and insurance certificates; passports; family photos etc.
- Any special medical or dietary needs: prescription glasses, asthma inhaler, hearing aid, prescription drugs.
- Toiletries and baby needs.
- Feminine needs.
- Also take warm clothing and bedding.
- Wear warm clothes and strong footwear.
- List of relations' and close friends' addresses and phone numbers.
- Blankets and sleeping bags.
Don't forget your pets.
Do you have a pet plan?
You should include your pets in your emergency preparedness planning. Have a pet box handy for smaller animals, and if you need to evacuate, take pets with you if you can. Larger animals, bees and stock may require assistance or moving as well. Where possible in weather events or when flooding is possible, move stock to high ground early.
Know what to do before you have to do it. Discuss these things with your family:
- WHAT will you do in an earthquake, flood, storm or volcanic eruption?
- WHAT will you take if you have to evacuate your home?
- WHAT should older children do if parents/care-givers aren't at home?
- WHO will look after your pets if you can't?
- WHO can do First Aid (in your family, neighbourhood, workplace)?
- WHO will collect the children from day care/school if you are unable to?
- WHERE would you all meet if you can't get home? Discuss if parents are at work and children at school?
- WHERE would you go to for help if the phones weren't working?
- WHERE do you turn off the power and water?
- WHERE do you get drinking water if the pipes are broken?
- ARE you part of a Neighbourhood Support Group?
- HOW would you get messages to other family members?
- KNOW where your Emergency Survival Kit is stored
- KNOW how you can improvise cooking, lighting and toilet facilities
Your Family Plan must be discussed and tested. You all need to agree on your plan. Download a Household Emergency Plan(PDF, 112KB) to fill in. Survival will be easier if you know these things.
Desirable things to have:
- shoes under the bed (to protect feet from broken glass)
- fire extinguisher (know how to use it)
- smoke alarm (check the batteries every six months)
- for people who are hearing impaired, consider a flashing light
- manual can opener
- gas barbecue.
Basic tips in emergency preparedness for older adults and people with disabilities
The most important things to have:
- those things listed under the Be Prepared section and this section
- one week's supply of medicines (rotated regularly) and instructions for use - dosage, frequency, doctor's name and phone; post this information on your refrigerator under the heading EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS.
Other important things you may need:
- extra eye glasses, hearing aid, mobility aids, etc (in case of damage)
- extra blankets (with electricity out, you may not have heat).
- Develop a "buddy" system with family, friends, neighbours, or co-workers. Plan how you will help each other in an emergency.
- Prepare an emergency getaway kit that you could grab and take with you if there is a need to evacuate. Include necessary medications, basic toiletries, any special sanitary aids, and a list of whom to contact in emergencies (with phone numbers, addresses and date you wrote the list).
- Make a list of your medications, allergies, special equipment, doctor's number, and whom to contact in emergencies. People who have difficulty with communication should have other important information written out, such as special toilet needs, or how to lift or move them. Give a copy to each buddy, keep a copy with you, and put a copy in your getaway kit.
- Make a plan with your personal caregiver. If you use a caregiver from an agency, see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies.
- Determine at least two usable exits from each room and from your building.
- Pick one out-of-district and one local friend or relative for family and others to call if separated. Identify a location where you can reunite with family/friends.
Tips for during and after an earthquake
- If you are in a bed or out of a wheelchair, stay put and cover your head.
- If you are in a wheelchair, stay in it and go into a doorway that doesn't have a door. Put the brakes on and cover your head and neck with your hands.
- Be prepared for aftershocks. Turn on your portable radio for instructions.
- What preparedness advice is offered for older adults who rely on equipment and assistance? (for example, hearing aids, wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, respirators, eye glasses, etc).
- Keep important equipment in a convenient and secured place so you can quickly and easily locate it.
- Develop an emergency kit where extra hearing aids, batteries, eyeglasses are kept, to replace damaged or lost equipment.
- Store extra mobility aids (such as canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs) as a back-up to primary equipment.
- How can older adults, who rely on personal attendants or caregivers to provide assistance, prepare for the fact this support may not be available after a major earthquake?
- If you have home care support, discuss with these people a plan for what you both will do in case of an emergency.
- A critical element to consider in emergency planning is the establishment of a personal support network or buddy system. This network can consist of friends, neighbours or relatives. Their job is to check with you in an emergency to ensure you are okay and to help where needed.
- Do not depend on any one person, but work out support relationships with several people.
As ageing may limit certain self-sufficiency skills, what contingencies should older adults prepare for following an emergency? Evaluate your capabilities, limitations and needs, as well as your surroundings, to determine what type of help you may need in an emergency.
- Will you be able to independently shut off the necessary utilities (water or electricity)?
- Can you operate a fire extinguisher?
- Write instructions for the following (keep a copy with you and share with your personal support network):
- How to operate and safely move any essential equipment you have.
- How to safely transport you if you need to be carried.
- How to provide personal assistance services (toilet, hygiene).
- How you will evacuate, and where you will go.
- How can older adults, who may have physical impairments that limit mobility, address these evacuation needs?
- Arrange and secure furniture and other items to provide multiple paths of escape.
- Consider and practise using alternate methods of evacuation.
- If lifts are out and you are above the first floor of a building and cannot use stairs, identify lifting and carrying techniques that will work for you.
- The need to have important information readily available is critical in case of injury, evacuation, or as a result of shock given the trauma of the event. What information is most helpful to write down?
- Writing down important life-saving information is vital. Create an emergency health information card to tell rescuers what they need to know about you if you are unconscious, incoherent or if there is a need for your evacuation.
- The card should contain information about medications, equipment you use, communication, hearing or mobility difficulties, preferred treatment, medical providers and important contact people. Make multiple copies of this card to keep in your wallet, give to people in your personal support network and display on your refrigerator.
- Other emergency contacts to list include members of your personal support network, equipment suppliers, doctors, family members, and utility companies (power, gas, water).
- In addition, store copies of family records, wills, deeds, bank accounts in your emergency kit.
- Given that tap water may be contaminated following a major earthquake, how do we prepare older adults who are more susceptible to dehydration?
- It is vital that older people maintain a minimum of 12 litres of stored water – four litres per day for a three-day period (2 litres for drinking, 2 litres for personal washing). Store water in sealed unbreakable containers that are easy to handle (such as 2-litre easy-to-open bottles).
- Replace stored water with fresh water every six months.
- Many older adults may have hypertension and therefore food should be low in salt. Similarly, diabetic elderly require foods reduced in sugar.
- When developing a three-day food supply, it is important that older adults pay attention to special foods they require.
- Being older means feeling more vulnerable. In a major disaster, feelings of acute anxiety, confusion and fear will be issues as critical for older adults as their physical condition. Again, older adults are strongly encouraged to develop a buddy system or personal support network. Someone who can check in following an emergency will become an important ally in reducing stress. Older adults may want individuals who form their personal support network to:
- Check on them immediately after an emergency (earthquake), and offer personal assistance as needed.
- Have a spare copy of important keys.
- Know where emergency supplies are kept.
- Have copies of relevant emergency documents that specify medication, special equipment, and other life support needs.
- Have an agreed-upon communications system regarding how to contact each other in an emergency – taking into account the fact that telephones may not work after a major earthquake.
- Know when each other will be out of town and the subsequent date of return.
- Learn about their personal needs and how to be of support in an emergency (such as interpreting or making sure food, water, and medications are in place).
- What special preparedness tips can be offered for older people who take necessary medications?
- Try to always maintain at least a 7- to 14-day supply of essential medications.
- Work with your doctor to obtain an extra supply of medication, or prescription.
- Ask if it would be safe to go without one dosage periodically, until you secure an adequate supply.
- Keep essential medications and copies of prescriptions with you.
SPECIAL THANKS: The above is a condensed version of the more comprehensive Earthquake Tips for People with Disabilities Package developed by the Independent Living Resource Centre of San Francisco.
In the case of an emergency, Civil Defence Centres may be opened for evacuation, welfare needs and as community hubs. Below are the locations of various centres throughout the Whanganui District. Centres will be opened based on need, proximity and availability of resources/staff to operate them. It's helpful to know where your nearest emergency welfare centre is. You can find the centre on the map below, followed by a list of all centres.
All centres are currently CLOSED.
During an emergency, make sure you have up-to-date information about what to do. Here are the various ways you can stay informed with accurate information from the Whanganui Civil Defence Team.
During an emergency, Brian FM broadcasts directly from the Whanganui District Civil Defence headquarters.
Brian FM is available on these frequencies:
- 91.2FM Whanganui
- 93.2FM Taihape and Waiouru
- 90.2FM Mt Ruapehu
- 92.0 FM Reel World Radio Whanganui
- 104.6FM Reel World Radio Mt Ruapehu
The following radio stations will also have regular updates and are part of the national network:
Like the Whanganui District Council and the Civil Defence Manawatu-Wanganui Facebook pages for the latest information about what to do during emergencies.
Emergency Mobile Alerts
Emergency Mobile Alert messages can be sent to mobile phones by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Horizons Regional Council, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
They are sent if life, health or property is in serious danger.
The alerts are sent using cell broadcast technology, so you won’t have to sign up or download an application.
If your phone is capable of receiving Emergency Mobile Alerts, the alert should appear automatically on your phone’s screen with a unique and penetrating warning sound. As Emergency Mobile Alert is about keeping you safe, you won’t be able to opt-out of receiving Emergency Mobile Alert.
Emergency Mobile Alerts do not replace other ways of staying informed about what to do during an emergency. Make sure you have a battery or solar powered radio and keep tabs on the Whanganui District Council and Manawatu–Wanganui Civil Defence Facebook page, as well as listen to the radio.
More information about Emergency Mobile Alert messages
For urgent issues during an emergency, please call (06) 349 0515 (24 hours).
For the latest information about what to do during an emergency, please follow the Council's Facebook page or listen to the radio and only use the phone number if necessary to keep the phone lines clear.
You can also use this number to contact the Civil Defence Emergency Management for general enquiries at other times.
Whanganui District Council
101 Guyton Street, Whanganui
Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, an emergency may be declared for an area (such as Whanganui District) where an emergency means a situation that:
- is the result of any happening, whether natural or otherwise, including, without limitation, any explosion, earthquake, eruption, tsunami, land movement, flood, storm, tornado, cyclone, serious fire, leakage or spillage of any dangerous gas or substance, technological failure, infestation, plague, epidemic, failure of or disruption to an emergency service or a lifeline utility, or actual or imminent attack or warlike act
- causes or may cause loss of life or injury or illness or distress or in any way endangers the safety of the public or property in New Zealand or any part of New Zealand
- cannot be dealt with by emergency services, or otherwise requires a significant and co-ordinated response under this Act.
An emergency declaration can only be made by the Mayor (of the area where the emergency has happened), or the appointed Controller of that area.
History of Civil Defence emergency declarations for Whanganui District
|10 March 1990
||14 March 1990
||Flooding of Whanganui River
||Cyclone Hilda. 96 homes evacuated. In the event, farm damage was estimated at $12 million. Declared at 2015; terminated at 1230. Insurance costs in this event, excl. EQC were $1.8m (1994).
|8 November 1994
||9 November 1994
||Flooding of Whanganui River
||Declared at 1800, lifted at 1200. 157 evacuated from 82 households.
|29 October 1998
||30 October 1998
||Flooding of Whanganui River
||Declared at 0630; lifted 1400 next day. Declaration to facilitate evacuation of 62 residential properties & 45 commercial premises threatened by possible overtopping of the stopbanks of the Whanganui River. 75 evacuees; 24 in motel accommodation. Stopbanks not breached although some localised flooding occurred.
|17 February 2004
||25 February 2004
||Intense rainfall and gale force winds over nine days. A local declaration was made over the region, covering South Taranaki, Whanganui, Ruapehu, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Tararua and Horowhenua. Other parts of NZ also affected by the same storm were South Wairarapa, Wellington and Marlborough.
|15 September 2013
||16 September 2013
|| Flooding Event
||Whanganui River Flooding. 140 homes adjacent to Kowhai Park and in Pūtiki evacuated. Over thirty businesses along Taupō Quay evacuated. State of Emergency declared.
|20 June 2015
||30 June 2015
|Intense rainfall onto waterlogged soil over entire region caused significant widespread localised flooding and landslides, followed by flooding of Whanganui, Waitotara and Whangaehu rivers with hundreds of homes and businesses flooded and rural communities cut off. 10-day State of Emergency. Estimated $150m in damage across our District.
|6 April 2017
|7 April 2017
||Met Service warnings of a significant rainfall event in the upper catchment modelled to overtop flood defenses. One-day declaration and precautionary evacuations of Anzac Parade, Putiki and Taupō Quay. Weather system bumped to Edgecumbe by southerly change and no damage reported.
To find out more, go to www.civildefence.govt.nz
A single, unified fire services organisation for New Zealand’s rural, urban, paid and volunteer fire fighters came into effect on 1 July 2017. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is an amalgamation of more than 40 rural fire authorities, including the former Whanganui Rural Fire Authority, along with the New Zealand Fire Service, the National Fire Authority and rural fire districts.
Councils no longer have responsibility for fire control or the power to collect funding for rural fire, although they will retain civil defence responsibilities.
The provision of services and fire response within the Whanganui community will remain unchanged, but the former Whanganui Rural Fire Authority – now Whanganui Fire and Emergency New Zealand – is no longer Council-funded or managed. Rural fire personnel and assets, including vehicles, have transferred to FENZ.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill 2017 repeals the two Acts governing fire services, the Fire Service Act 1975 and the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977. This Bill marks the most significant change to New Zealand’s fire legislation in 70 years, with full integration expected to take four years.
Whanganui Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Whanganui Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is responsible for ensuring the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 is being complied with in the Whanganui District.
Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, Gavin Pryce, is responsible for a number of management functions, including actions to reduce the risk and severity of fire and monitoring the fire danger on a daily basis during the fire season.
Gavin Pryce can be contacted on 06 348 0103.
For more information about Fire and Emergency New Zealand, call 06 348 0103.
For rural fire permits only, call 0800 658 628 or visit www.checkitsalright.nz
For an urban fire permit (required in all urban areas, 365 days a year)
call Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 06 348 0103.
Serious flooding has occurred in most parts of New Zealand at some time or another, including in Whanganui.
Whanganui has a history of repeated flooding in low-lying areas, particularly adjacent to the Whanganui, Whangaehu and Mangawhero Rivers and neighbouring streams.
Climate change modelling tells us that heavier and more frequent downpours will cause localised or large-scale flooding in this area of the country.
Whanganui residents living or working near streams or rivers, on river banks or surrounding flats and floodplains should keep up to date about the weather and its effects on river levels.
The most significant flood event on record for Whanganui was in June 2015, when a combination of heavy rain caused simultaneous surface flooding as well as landslides around the city and in the lower, middle and upper catchments. This caused the Whanganui and our other rivers to flood.
This event was considered a 1-in-100-year flood. For an explanation of what this means watch the following video.
How to stay informed
People in at-risk areas should have a plan prepared for evacuating themselves, pets, livestock and important items or goods to a safe location.
Flooding may also impact our roads, so make sure you have supplies ready in your car in case you are stranded for some time. You may also be stuck at work, so prepare your workplace emergency plan.
A tsunami is a series of sea waves generated by an earthquake, a large underwater landslide or volcanic activity.
All of New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes and all of our coastline is at risk of tsunami. We can't predict when one will happen, but we can protect ourselves and our families.
The most tsunami-prone areas in New Zealand are between the East Cape and Napier, the Cook Strait area, the area around Banks Peninsula and the East Coast of the South Island.
An international warning system, based in Hawaii, attempts to predict any activity that could lead to a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean by combining information from earthquake sensors with ocean buoys. The buoys used to identify and track tsunami are positioned hundreds of kilometres offshore. Tsunami can be generated from inshore of these buoys and this is a particular risk along the Hikurangi Trench subduction zone off the lower East Coast of the North Island.
Know the signs
If there is time, you will receive official warnings from Whanganui District Civil Defence and Emergency, Horizons Regional Council or through the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. These warnings may come to you via social media, radio broadcasts or the emergency services (such as Police, Fire, or Ambulance).
You may receive warnings from one or several sources. In an official warning there will be instructions to evacuate from the zone(s) stated in the warning message. You may also receive a warning through the Emergency Mobile Alert.
Warnings from friends, the public, or international media, may be correct. Evacuate from all zones if you are concerned. Verify the warning once you are in the safe zone.
Remember: Long or Strong, Get Gone.
Tsunami – natural signs
In the case of:
- a large earthquake (one that is hard to stand up in)
- a weak rolling earthquake shaking of unusually long duration (a minute or more)
- out of the ordinary sea behaviour, such as sudden sea level rise or fall and/or unusual noise...
You should evacuate all zones – a wave may arrive within minutes, wait in the safe zone for the official all clear. For a local source tsunami which could arrive in minutes, there won't be time for an official warning.
Find out where the tsunami evacuation areas are in Whanganui and check your address to see whether your home is within the zone.
Civil Defence sirens have been installed at Balgownie Avenue, Castlecliff and Mowhanau to help warn people of tsunamis. These are briefly tested at around 0830 on the first Wednesday morning of each month excluding January.
Sirens will only be activated continuously if Civil Defence is aware of an earthquake from a local or distant source and there is likely to be some time for people to evacuate to higher ground. Distant source tsunamis may take up to 14 hours to impact on our coastal areas.
The continuous sounding of sirens sited along the coast and the lower Whanganui River estuary up to Pūtiki will give warning that an emergency is taking place.
The tsunami warning sound at Mowhanau comes from a large, mechanical siren, which has an air raid-like sound.
If you hear a tsunami siren, please listen to your radio and visit the Whanganui District Council Facebook page to find out what to do next.
Tsunami information boards
Tsunami information boards are situated around Whanganui's coastal areas. The boards include information on natural tsunami signs and what to do if a tsunami is generated near our coastline.
Signs indicating the evacuation routes and safe location zones are also displayed along coastal areas.