Monday 15 May, 2023
Around 3,000 sandbags are now distributed around the region in preparedness for the next heavy rain event.
Tairāwhiti Emergency Management Manager Ben Green says the sandbags were given away at an event on Saturday at Makaraka that was well supported by the community.
“It was a highly successful event.”
Mr Green and two of this team joined forces with the Rapid Relief Team and Fulton Hogan to
give away pre-filled sandbags to those who needed them most in our community – all up 6,000
were filled over Friday and Saturday.
The remainder of the sandbags will be stored by Fulton Hogan to be deployed when needed.
The preparedness event to pre-fill sandbags was the first of its kind in New Zealand.
RRT donated their Rapid Sand Bagger machine, and their volunteers filled them up and ran a barbecue for the community between 11 and 2 on Saturday by Halbert Road.
Mr Green says whanāu stopped and watched the Rapid Sand Bagger at work, enjoyed the sausage sizzle, passersby asked questions and even out-of-towners offered support.
“That’s what it’s all about.
“The most important thing we can do as a region is prepare. Events like this get us in that mindset of what to do and what is needed ahead of the next heavy rain event.
“If everyone does a little something, it makes a big difference.”
Mr Green says while picking up the sandbags people had the chance to share their stories.
“We enjoyed listening to them and heard how grateful they were for this much-needed community initiative to prepare.
“It’s so important to be working with charities like RRT and local businesses in this community-led event.”
Mr Green particularly wanted to give thanks to RRT Board Chairman Cameron Prestidge, RRT team leader Clarke Judd and all of the Rapid Relief Team for overseeing their Rapid Sand Bagger and the BBQ`.
“We’d also like to thank Fulton Hogan for hauling and storing the sand, Siteworx Civil for supplying the sand, EastCoast Hire and Porter Hire for their machines, Hirepool donated a chiller and ProTraffic directed traffic management on the day.”
Mr Green says community links have asked for unfilled sandbags to be sent up the coast so they can fill them themselves.
Below from left are Tairāwhiti Emergency Management Manager Ben Green with two of his team - Marcus Tibble in operations and Dallas Haynes in welfare. Saturday’s community event saw people pull up with their trailers and get sandbags to protect their homes during future heavy rain events.
The Rapid Sand Bagger was brought into New Zealand from America by the RRT – they bought two of these machines for New Zealand – one for the North Island and one for the South Island.