The first (of many!) community forum for Karamea and Little Wanganui took place on Friday, Nov. 20th, at the RSA. Attendance was good and the food was tasty! Two planned topics for discussion were the Karamea Community Website and our Flood Warning & Action System.
Caro Findlay of the Department of Internal Affairs was on hand for the forum.
Speaking for the Website Project were Radek and Rick Lucas (Deborah Wagner was out of town)
Regarding the community website content, the public asked about the general community information, links to other websites, current local weather and tides information, a calendar of community events, clubs and committees information, inter-activity and the ability to upload commentary as well as receive outward information. There seemed to be no major concerns or worries from those in attendance, only a display of healthy curiosity and good ideas.
One (of many) good ideas was the suggestion that the website not ‘go live’ to the global Internet community until locals had a chance to preview it. This is possible by making initial access to the website by registration only. Registration, by password, would be given to all in our community. In this way people can have an ‘advanced screening’ of the website (stage 1), and follow up by submitting suggestions and comments directly through the community website. This idea is being incorporated into the construction process. If there are further questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me at the contact information, top of this page.
Flood Warning & Action staff from the district and regional councils were on hand to explain what happens (relative to the Karamea area) when the potential for flooding develops. Our region’s alarm trigger is the water level sensor gauge (solar powered) up in the Karamea gorge.
Speaking for the Flood Warning/FAP System were Simon Moran, Stefan Beaufort of the West Coast Regional Council and Reg Barrell of the Buller District Council
During protracted heavy rains if a river level of 4.0m is reached on the flood hydrograph, the district’s Flood Duty Officers are alerted to go into action. They monitor rising levels and decide when Flood Action Plan procedures should proceed. If that occurs the officers phone the regional and district councils, emergency services and key community representatives in flood prone areas. If need be, Karamea’s Civil Defense team becomes involved as well. It was explained by the Flood Duty Officers at the forum that no two flood events are ever the same and that Karamea must be prepared for such variances.
People raised concerns about the time intervals between information dissemination and warning events, saying that they were too short. Local evidence was also presented regarding how fast the rivers can actually rise during heavy rains. These items were taken on board by the Flood Officers for consideration and analysis.
It was explained to the public, by the Flood Officers, that the four critical flood sensors on the West Coast, (Karamea gorge sensor being one and the northern most gauge), are all powered by solar panels. Therefore they will run down quickly if too much demand is placed on them. This is why flood updates from those sensors occur only once an hour rather than more often, or continuously, as was suggested during the forum discussion.
In the third and final section of the forum the floor was opened to local attendees who may have brought their own ideas and thoughts to the open discussion.
George Snowden asked about the possibility of a determined logo for the website and for Karamea. Discussion included the issues involved with branding communities and community consultation. More discussion would ensue beyond this forum.
The attendees were asked about the best time for future forums.
Evenings seemed the general preference (7 pm start), but no specific day of the week seemed preferred. For the potential of having future forums more specifically targeted to the needs of the elderly it was considered that an afternoon session might be best.
The attendees were also asked about what future forum topics they would want to discuss. In no order of priority the topics mentioned were: 1) logo and branding of community website 2) elderly housing and health 3) waste management 4)community centre 5) swimming pool 6) hydro power- electricity requirements 7) youth programmes.