On 4 December 2023 a group of approximately 25 community participants attended an Aoraki-Mt Cook Civil Defence workshop.
The group represented a variety of local emergency service providers such as FENZ, St John, Department of Conservation, Search and Rescue, Alpine Guides, Rescue Pilots from Aoraki-Mt Cook airport, Hermitage Hotel, Haka House, Aoraki Mt Cook School, Mackenzie District Civil Defence and the Mackenzie District Council.
The group was presented a severe weather warning based on a historical flooding event that occurred in 1979 where parts of the Aoraki Mt Cook village had to be evacuated due to flooding. Several local bridges were damaged in the storm and power was cut off.
The purpose of the workshop was to understand and plan for a localised event where outside resources were limited. Utilising local resources and a coordinated incident management approach to efficiently respond, evacuate, and communicate their response.
Aoraki Mt Cook is a very unique environment that poses many challenges such as topography, extreme weather and high domestic and international tourists visiting the National Park each day. However, they have skilled emergency and community responders and strong community spirit to do what is best for their community.
This workshop is one of the four Civil Defence workshops planned for the Mackenzie District in 2023/24. Twizel, Lake Tekapo and Fairlie workshops will commence in 2024.
Mackenzie District Emergency Management Officer Joe Rush was impressed at the commitment and professionalism the group showed during the workshop. Lots of discussion and collaboration between the participants was extremely valuable.