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On the evening of Monday 9 November, Napier was declared under a local state of emergency due to the widespread flooding. Around 230 millimetres of rain hit the Hawke’s Bay region in one day, prompting dozens of households to evacuate.
New Zealand Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Team in the Hawke’s Bay was activated on Tuesday 10 November at 8am. At the request of Civil Defence, six disaster response volunteers have been providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) at the evacuation centre located at 11 Storkey Street, Marewa.
PFA is about providing emotional and practical support to people affected by a traumatic event, whether that is an earthquake or floods like some Napier residents have recently experienced. Our volunteers are trained to be able to offer that support.
Alongside offering PFA to residents, the team has also been supporting the community by assisting with transportation. For example, volunteers have assisted a woman from a severely flooded street so she could attend her father’s funeral, they have accompanied an elderly man back to his home to collect his medication before taking him back to the evacuation centre, and they have taken another man back to his damaged property to collect supplies for his children.
“We’ve been supporting a lot of people. It’s been a real shock to our community having something like this happen, so we’re making sure everyone is feeling like they got a bit of care and support in this really challenging time,” says Nick Fazakerley, one of the disaster response volunteers in the evacuation centre in Napier.
“Those evacuated ranged from very young children right up to an 87-year-old man. Everyone was pretty traumatised and struggled to get much sleep overnight. They were all just thankful someone came, lots of tears, lots of hugs," adds Amber McArthur, another volunteer in Napier.
Responding to disasters all year around
New Zealand Red Cross disaster response volunteers train all year around to be ready to deploy to an emergency such as recent floods in Napier. Our disaster response volunteers mostly train and respond to emergencies in their local area, but may travel throughout New Zealand supporting other Red Cross teams when needed. Our response teams are trained in a variety of skills, from first aid to ground-based rescue and PFA.