Community recovery after the 2005 Matata disaster : long-term psychological and social impacts

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Spee, K. 2008 Community recovery after the 2005 Matata disaster : long-term psychological and social impacts. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2008/12 36 p.

Abstract: Matata is a small coastal community in the Bay of Plenty with a population of 759. The socioeconomic status of the population is very low, with a deprivation index (NZDep2006) of 9. On 18 May 2005, a band of extremely heavy rain passed over Matata. During a 90-minute period, 124 mm rainfall was recorded, and a total of 300mm rainfall was recorded over the 24-hour period. Severe flooding in the catchments behind Matata caused a major debris avalanche to flow through the township. Impacts of the flooding and debris flow included closures of the main road and railway; the destruction of 27 houses in Matata and damage to a further 87 properties; the evacuation of 538 people; disruption to water and electricity supplies, stormwater and septic tank systems;and the deposition of some 750,000 m3 of debris throughout Matata township and lagoon. This report describes the community disaster recovery process undertaken within the Matata community two years after the disaster event in 2005. The disaster recovery approach incorporated principles of community psychology and constructive narrative theory. The process was two-pronged and involved both (1) collecting personal stories from Matata residents who experienced the disaster event and ongoing impacts, and (2) using community consultation and collaboration techniques of community meetings, survey collection and establishment of a community reference group. A key lesson learned was that the success of any disaster recovery approach is contingent on building relationships with the impacted community and fostering positive psychological and social ways forward. Within Matata this was achieved through development of a community plan which encouraged Matata residents to develop a future picture of Matata, based on a shared vision and their unique community attributes. Key conclusions and recommendations for post-disaster community recovery and ongoing work in the area of disaster recovery have also been provided. (auth)