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Community Emergency Hub Guide

Community Emergency Hub Guide

A Hub is a place for the community to coordinate your efforts to help each other during and after a disaster. 

Hubs provide the community with information which helps everyone make informed decisions about how to help themselves,

so even if you do not have the capacity to help in a practical way, providing information is a valuable service. 

During Cyclone Gabrielle we saw communities across the region provide much needed support through the setup of hubs. Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management Group acknowledge how essential these community-led hubs are in a time of uncertainty and have developed a Community Emergency Hub Guide to support this community-led initiative.  

The Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management Group assists these community-led hubs through the support of local Council, emergency services, local agencies, iwi and hapū.

With the Community Emergency Hub model, we aim to build a more resilient Hawke’s Bay community.

What is a Community Emergency Hub?

In a disaster such as a big earthquake, there is likely to be widespread damage to power lines, water pipes, buildings, roads, and phone networks. Emergency services will be dealing with the most urgent matters, so the people you live nearest to will be your most immediate, and ongoing, source of support.

A Community Emergency Hub is a place where you and your neighbours can go to help each other in a major emergency. There are over 30 hubs across the Hawke’s Bay region. They are located at community facilities and some schools and can be opened by keyholders living in the local area.

What is the purpose of a Community Hub?

In a disaster, official services will be stretched to the point where they must prioritise the most urgent call-outs. We will all have to pitch in and help each other.

When you have checked on your household and neighbours, you and your family can go to your local Community Emergency Hub to:

  • Ask for and offer help by sharing skills and resources among your community

  • Share and find information about what's happening in your suburb

  • Start organising the clean-up of your community

  • Be in the company of others facing a similar situation

What will I find at a Community Emergency Hub?

The Hub is run by people like you in your local community without official assistance. Each Hub has a guide for how to coordinate the sharing of information, skills and resources that exist in your community.

There is a small amount of equipment, including a VHF radio in case the phone and internet networks aren't working. The radio will allow communities to communicate with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) run by your local council.

There are no supplies, food, water or blankets stored at Hubs. Our communities are full of beds with blankets on them and pantries with food in them to get through the first week after an emergency. Your community can gather the things it needs at the time by working together.

How is a Community Emergency Hub run?

Community members run a Hub without official assistance - it's essentially a place for neighbours to help each other in a coordinated way. Each Hub has a Hub Guide which explains how to organise an emergency response and describes the different roles needed.

HBCDEM works with communities to practise how they would respond to an earthquake and help the people they live nearest to get through even some of the most challenging issues.

As we saw in the Canterbury earthquakes, Cyclone Gabrielle, and other disasters around the world, the community will naturally come together to support one another after a disaster. Strong, connected communities are better prepared to respond to and recover from disasters.
In a major emergency, official responders will need to prioritise the most urgent issues, so it is likely that for the first few days you will need to help each other within your local community. The Hub is a designated place where you can gather, connect with one another and solve problems using the skills and resources which already exist among your community.

A Community Emergency Hub is needed when there has been a major emergency where people need assistance, and the support needed is beyond the current capability of council and emergency services.

If official support is available from the council and emergency services, then you probably don't need to open a Hub.

There is no official assistance at the Hub.

Each Hub has a guide for how to coordinate the sharing of information, skills and resources in the community, and some basic equipment to get people started.

There are no supplies, food, water or blankets stored at Hubs. Our communities are full of beds with blankets on them, and pantries with food in them. You can gather the things you need at the time by asking the local community.

Hawke's Bay Emergency Management leads and coordinates emergency management on behalf of the local authorities in the Hawke’s Bay Region. Our role is to work with communities to plan for emergencies and practise how to organise an emergency response.

Each Community Emergency Hub has a two-way VHF radio in case phones and internet aren't working. The radio will allow the Hub to communicate with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for your council area. At the Hub, you can use the radio to communicate about larger issues that your community hasn't been able to solve locally.

Hubs are often located at community centres or schools, and anyone who has keys can open the doors for the community to use the Hub. This might be staff who live nearby, people who hire the facility regularly, or neighbours who have the keys. If you have the keys, then you can open a Hub when it's needed.

Each Hub has a guide with descriptions and lanyards for the roles needed to coordinate an emergency response. These roles are supervisor, communications, information coordination, public information, reception, needs and offers, community space and facilities maintenance. Roles are allocated by agreement between whoever turns up. Anyone can be part of the Hub team on the day.

No.  Everything is through consensus, co-operation, and community generosity. People running the Hub cannot force anyone to provide or do anything that they do not want to do.

If the Hub has not opened, communities can try and find a keyholder or find another venue to set up the community support.

If the Hub building is damaged or there is a risk to safety from the surrounding area, then the Community Emergency Hub should not be opened.  If this happens, try to find another venue to set up the Hub.

The Hub can stay open for as long as the community needs to be supported. It might have to move if the facility owners need their space back and will probably close overnight if there is no lighting.

The name was giving the impression that there would be official help available, but with numerous locations across the region, this is not the reality. To avoid confusion, we changed the name to Community Emergency Hubs to show that they are opened and run by the community when for some reason official help can't get there. Some of the street signs still say Civil Defence Centres and need to be changed.

Objectives of the Community Emergency Hub are to:

  • Provide information so that your community knows how to help each other and stay safe.
  • Understand what is happening. 
  • Solve problems using what your community has available. 
  • Provide a safe gathering place for members of the community to support one another. 

Hawke's Bay Region Community Emergency Hubs Map

The locations shown below indicate proposed hub locations. In addition to these locations future hubs will be added once established.

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