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Snow forecast prompts warning to be prepared

By KATARINA FILIPE, The Timaru Herald

20 May 2009

People could be left isolated for days if winter storms block roads and cause power cuts this week, the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has warned.

Canterbury Regional Emergency Management office manager Jon Mitchell said that with the forecast for snow, strong winds and cold weather, people needed to be prepared.

In the 2006 snowstorm, road closures and power outages affected large parts of Canterbury.

"If we experience road closures and power cuts again this winter, people may be on their own for three days or more and they need to prepare for this.

"This includes having stocks of food, water, fuel, alternative lighting and other emergency supplies on hand. Also, for businesses that depend on electricity or telecommunications, having a back-up generator is a very good idea."

Mr Mitchell said people considering driving over mountain passes should take chains with them in case of snow and check road conditions before setting out.

"Heavy rains have already caused significant flooding in South Canterbury in the last few days and this weather system may cause more issues.

"No matter what happens with this particular storm forecast, now is a good time for people in Canterbury to prepare for emergencies."

Emergency management officer for the Timaru district, Lamorna Cooper, said the weather was looking "bleak and cold" and it was a timely reminder that things could get bad "very, very quickly".

She said people should start stocking up now on essentials such as bread and milk, and they should check to make sure their gas cylinders were full.

"If they can afford a second one, that's not a bad idea either."

External water pipes should be insulated to prevent freezing, which could mean no drinking water or showers if that happened, she said.

Canned foods such as baked beans and soup should be kept in the pantry and people should make use of their neighbourhood support groups if they needed anything.

"Don't go out unless you have to. There's enough wallies out there now. In an emergency situation, if you feel that you do need support, you need to ask for support.

"Timaru has possibly the strongest neighbourhood support system in the South Island."


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