Te Puna prepares for disaster

Te Puna's coastal nature leaves it exposed and at risk of isolation should a disaster strike.

With the threat of isolation should disaster strike at the front of their minds, a group of Te Puna residents have taken matters into their own hands.

The Te Puna Heartlands group have created a dedicated, ‘all bases covered’ civil defence plan to guide the community through a range of natural disasters.

Created with, and funded by, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, the plan also aligns with other relevant plans such as the Kaimai Management Plan and the Tauranga Moana Cycleway project.

Heartlands’ Chairman Richard Comyn says the “Achilles’ heel of Te Puna” was the potential for the community to be isolated in a natural disaster.

Not only is Te Puna vulnerable due to being coastal, but it risks isolation if access to the north was prevented by road closures on State Highway 2 and to the south if there was no bridge access over the Wairoa River, he says.

The new plan details responses in the aftermath of an earthquake, tornado, landslip, tsunami, volcanic eruption, tropical cyclone or flood. Other risks identified include coolstore fires and agri-chemical spills associated with the kiwifruit industry.

Richard presented the plan to Western Bay Councillors this month, who congratulate the group on the quality and detail of the plan.

Ironically the day Richard presented to Council, a national tsunami warning was issued in the wake of the Chilean earthquake.

Richard says the plan will not gather dust but will be regularly updated and the community will be kept informed.

The area covered by the plan extends from Te Puna Stream in the north, Minden Ridge to the West, coast to the East and the Wairoa River to the south.

Te Puna has about 700 homes and is split geographically by the main Auckland to Tauranga highway and by the East Coast railway.

Western Bay communities that also have response plans include Athenree, Katikati, Matakana Island, Omokoroa, Waihi Beach and Wright Road.

The Te Puna Community Response Plan can be viewed here.

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