Kalim Guthrie in PPE standing in front of a helicopter in the air

Ventia's Kalim Guthrie has swapped out his Civil Defence gear and returned to his day job servicing our energy clients after a whirlwind period delivering food, water, generators and essential supplies to New Zealand communities that were badly hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Kalim, who works with Ventia's Electricity and Gas team on the South Island, was part of a team of seven from NZ-RT12 Civil Defence Response Team Waimakariri that was deployed to the Auckland region to support communities that were isolated with limited access to food and electricity in the wake of the storm.

Civil Defence Response Team Waimakariri

The NZ-RT12 team was made up of volunteers who support the Waimakariri District Council and National Emergency Management Agency to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the public in civil defence emergencies.

We were supporting coastal communities on Auckland's West Coast, from Piha, Karekare and Muriwai in the South, to South Head in the North. 

Kalim's team's job involved helicopter reconnaissance to understand the scale of the damage, followed by deliveries of food, medical supplies and generators to those in need. They also performed welfare checks, helped with vehicle recovery and delivered supplies for livestock and pets.

The Waimakariri team worked closely with a team of six from Marlborough; augmenting and relieving local Auckland civil defence units that were working no-stop since the heavy rain and flooding that struck the region in late January and early February, before the cyclone had even arrived.

A change of scene

Kalim said the civil defence work was a change of scene from his day job as Distribution Manager with Ventia, working on building and maintaining the South Islands electrical grid.

Ventia was very supportive. Many of my Ventia colleagues assisted the cyclone relief efforts through work on the roads, electricity and telecommunications networks, but when I received the call to fly north with my NZ-RT12 civil defence unit I knew I wanted to lend a hand.

He said the 4WD training he had received in his work with Ventia came in helpful when traversing some of the roads; many of which are still strewn with obstacles such as fallen trees, downed powerlines and other debris. The training helped to ensure he could perform his role safely and clearly identify any hazards.