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Two emergency evacuation centres to open

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Emergency Evacuation Centres in Waihī Beach and Pongakawa will open their doors to the community tonight in anticipation for the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Waihī Beach RSA and Pongakawa Action Centre will be open from 7:30pm for residents who need a dry, safe place to stay as the Western Bay prepares for heavy rain, wind and storm surges overnight.

These centres, operated by local community response teams, have the bare essentials – tea and coffee – with people needing to take their own warm clothes and blankets, and snacks. Pets are not allowed inside the centres and will need to remain in their cages in vehicles.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council Civil Defence Controller, Peter Watson says having the option to use these centres will hopefully provide some reassurance to residents and assist in their own planning.

“With the MetService forecast currently showing the heavy rain and wind to arrive between 10pm and 12am we’re doing everything we can to make people to feel as safe as they possibly can and have shelter options should they get into trouble.

“But please remember these are an absolute last resort should you fear for your life or property – whether you are in a high risk area or not. If you can stay with friends or whānau in the first instance please do so.”

Peter says the decision to just open these two centres is because Waihī Beach and Pukehina are the biggest concern for potential storm surges and the largest number of potential evacuees.

But there are plans already in place for further centres across our rohe to open if needed, including Bowentown, Katikati and Te Puke.

“Our team continues to work closely with community groups and tangata whenua to have robust plans in place to help out our residents as best as we can.

“Please keep monitoring our website for updates www.westernbay.govt.nz/cyclone-gabrielle and don’t forget to check in on your friends, whānau and neighbours too. A quick phone call to each other is always welcomed in times like these.”

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