Hawkes Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

In the Country

HBRC Councillor Ewan McGregor helping with the 2011 Easter Storm cleanup at Waimarama. Photo: HB Today
HBRC Councillor Ewan McGregor helping with the 2011 Easter Storm cleanup at Waimarama. Photo: HB Today

Farmers and other rural people are generally better equipped to cope in an emergency.  Although you tend to be more self-reliant with water and have good food, fuel and equipment available to help you get through, you still need to do some planning for the unusual circumstances an emergency can bring. 

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Most importantly your family, staff and home need to be safe.  You should also have business continuance planned for your property and involve staff in this process so they understand what is needed.

Plan for risks

  • Identify all the various potential risks (flooding, slips, trees down, power out, road out etc) for all parts of your property in various emergencies (flood, storm, earthquake) and plan how to deal with them. Some contingency planning may need to take place with neighbours.
  • Plan alternative access routes to and from farms in case of road/bridge closures.
  • In an emergency family and staff may be out on the property securing stock, fences etc, which can put them at risk.  Discuss and establish what are ‘reasonable risks’ before venturing out.   They need to know evacuation procedures, meeting points and how to stay in contact or report in regularly.
  • Farm houses in low lying coastal areas may be at risk of high seas or tsunami, or on the river flats at risk from flooding.  Plan alert and evacuation procedures and ensure occupants/guests know what to do.


  • Plan for stock needs in an emergency.  This may mean moving stock to higher or drier ground, opening gates so stock can move out when they need to, and feeding out.
  • Ensure fertilisers and chemicals are securely stored – so they don’t fall in an earthquake or can contaminate waterways in a flood.   Plan to safely clean-up after a spill.
  • Make sure water supplies can be secure from contamination, eg in ashfall disconnect spouting to rainwater tanks and conserve water; secure from potential floods, slips.
  • Plan ahead for unusual equipment needs if an emergency is pending, eg if ash fall is possible, you will need to change air filters and oil filters more often; heavy rain/snow forecast check battery and alternative power/heating supplies.

Power outages

  • It can be the small things that catch you out. Know that: Cordless phones don’t work when the power is off, so have at least one ordinary, non-powered phone ready to plug in.
  • Cellphones can be effective in an emergency if cellphone towers have not been distorted or have run out of battery power but your cellphones will need to be recharged sooner or later so it pays not to rely on them.
  • Modern wastewater treatment systems need electricity to run properly.  Without an alternative power supply, manual disposal methods will be needed.
  • Many rural properties have ‘mains pressure’ domestic water systems relying on power; even solar water heating relies on electricity to run the small pump that circulates the water. You will need access to alternatives.
  • Keep the barbecue or gas hob cylinder topped up or have a full back up ready to use for cooking in a power outage.
  • Equip yourself with a small portable generator – these come in various sizes are not expensive.  They are handy for various jobs around the farm and essential in a power outage. 
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