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Pete to the rescue in New Plymouth

JS team's guide to surviving a water crisis

"She's been pretty busy mate, I can tell you that for sure.''

And with that enormous understatement, Jean Sandel's maintenance man Pete Hollins launches into a 'how to' guide for looking after 412 potentially vulnerable residents during a civil emergency.

The drama began at the New Plymouth village when Cyclone Gita struck on February 20, causing a tree to fall and take out the main pipe to the city's water supply.

New Plymouth City Council declared a state of emergency which lasted five days, and more than a week on from the cyclone there are still strict water restrictions which mean that all water piped to the village must be boiled.

The risks to vulnerable residents from consuming contaminated water are obviously serious, and the village team met immediately and decided on a plan of action, which included sending vans out for bottled water and ordering in a tanker.

With 120 residents in care, and hundreds of meals to prepare, it has been a busy time for everyone at the village and Pete says he has had plenty of help.

For the past week he has hand delivered bottled water to 200 residents in the care centre and serviced apartments, giving up much of his weekend to do his twice daily rounds.

Pete and the gardening team have also made sure the more than 200 other residents living independently have access to water by delivering to them and regularly checking on the water levels in the 10,000 litre tanker supply.

The team has also ordered in extra drinks for staff, including lemonade, to make sure everyone is hydrated while the water restrictions continue.

While he has been busy Pete isn't grumbling, and says the residents have been "bloody brilliant'' throughout.

"I'm pretty fortunate to be in the position I am in here. I worked on the village as a carpenter and stayed on, so I've grown up with the village really. The residents are my 40 hour a week family, they really are family after so many years.

"I think it is a brilliant system where residents get security, comfort and companionship. My mum lives in a village so I know what it means to families to know they are looked after.''

Regional Operations Manager Nicki Brown says everyone has coped well during a tough time, and Pete has done an exceptional job.

"He' a great example of a real Rymanian going above and beyond for residents and staff.''

Town house residents Ann and Murray Evans said they had visited the supermarket to find no bottled water available, so the village supplies and the tanker had been great for residents.


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