Napier and Wellington, New Zealand – 11 November 2020 

New Zealand Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Teams (DWST) have been responding to the Napier floods since the early hours of Tuesday 10 November. Nine disaster response volunteers have been providing immediate support to people affected by the extreme weather event. 

Red Cross’ highly trained disaster response volunteers are providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) to those experiencing emotional distress during these difficult and uncertain times.  

Our decades of experience responding to disasters around Aotearoa have shown us the importance of addressing emotional needs in the aftermath of a distressing event such as floods. Red Cross volunteers are trained to be able to offer that emotional and practical support to people in an unsettling time.  

Well-timed and appropriately delivered psychosocial support helps people to manage and mitigate the impacts of a crisis. It also helps to restore social cohesion and emotional wellbeing, in turn strengthening community resilience. 

“A lot of the people who we’ve reached over the past few days feel really distressed. This event obviously has had strong emotional impact on the people affected, and that is something that will surely take a lot of time to recover from,” says Hawke’s Bay DWST Leader, Carma Anderson, who has been on the ground since the early hours of Tuesday. 

Alongside offering PFA to residents, the team has also been supporting the community by assisting with transportation. From assisting a woman from a severely flooded street so she could attend her father’s funeral, to accompanying an elderly man back to his home to collect his medication before taking him back to the evacuation centre, Red Cross volunteers have been available to support residents. 

“As Red Cross disaster response volunteers, we do what we can to provide affected people with practical and emotional support, such as lending them a listening ear, offering to accompany them back to their homes to pick up basic essentials they’ve left, or even just handing out a blanket to keep them warm. It can be a very difficult time for a lot of people, and we would like them to feel that they do not need to go through this difficult time alone,” adds Carma.  

New Zealand Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Teams (DWST) train year-round to make sure they are prepared when disaster strikes, providing assistance and support where required, to help communities around the country. We work closely with Civil Defence Emergency Management as well as other local partners. 

For more information and to organise media interview with volunteers:

Heidi Anicete, New Zealand Red Cross’ Communications Advisor in Napier, 027 365 8210  

Communications Team in Wellington, 04 495 0139 or communications@redcross.org.nz