So far, so good. The health authorities released initial test results today, which show no asbestos on the dust samples they collected around town the day after the fire. Results from the air samples they collected will not be available for another 36 hours or so.
I spent my Saturday at work, handing out rubbish bags and gloves for the clean up, and repeating the advice I have been provided with. Human nature can be a funny thing and, in the last two days or so, I have seen some of the best and worst that stress brings out in people. Obviously because it is my work I can’t say much, but I will say this. It is often the people who have encountered the most risk, with the most to lose, who are also the most patient and understanding that some answers cannot be provided instantly. Enough said!
On the home front, most of the smoke smell has gone thank goodness. I have a bit of a cough etc, kind of like hayfever, but that’s all. Just a normal reaction to exposure to yucky smoke.
I have to work again tomorrow, Sunday, so hope things go well. Having dealt with 600 worried people in two days, I’m a bit tired out.
Well, we got off fairly lightly yesterday cos of the wind direction. But woke this morning to a very smoky house, despite all the windows being closed up tight. I had a nasty headache by 10am and, 5 Panadol in 2 hours later, headed home leaving my staff to battle it out. I felt bad leaving them, but was barely coherent.
It’s incredibly quiet in the streets, like living in a ghost town.
So how is it going? Here’s some “highlights” from the media releases:
Patea residents can expect to receive information tomorrow about what they can do to minimise risks of asbestos contamination as a fire at the derelict freezing works site continues to smoulder at the southern approach to the town.
We will not know the true level of risk till Monday when we expect to reserve results of testing for the presence of asbestos in the town.
“People should remain indoors where possible and keep doors and windows closed. It’s important that children be kept away from any dusty areas that may contain soot and debris from the fire.”
Mayor Dunlop said the Council would have two farm effluent irrigators sprinkling water from the Patea River on debris at the Freezing Works site tomorrow. “By keeping the site damp we can minimise the risk of wind carrying any contamination towards the town or other areas. And the Regional Council is investigating options that may be available to keep the site safe from wind longer term, while we assess the best ways to permanently clear all traces of the fire damaged buildings.”
The disused freezing works in town caught fire last night. There is a lot of asbestos in the buildings so it is quite dangerous, and masses of acrid smoke. They evacuated everyone who lives near it during the night.
Today they are evacuating up to 300 more people whose houses are in the ‘smoke zones’. All the shops are closed, and the day’s big Waitangi Day party in the park has been cancelled.
Those of us not being evacuated have to stay indoors for up to 3 days with all doors and windows closed. My husband is out on the ambulance helping to evacuate the rest home first, then individuals with medical issues.
Mum and I have battened down the hatches – doors and windows closed, extra water in saucepans… I keep a civil emergency kit anyway, so we have food, medicines, disinfectant and so on.
It’s been a busy morning though; because I work for Council lots of people are ringing me trying to find out what is happening and what they should do.
My only real concerns are: our 4 cockatiels and 2 Galahs in the outside aviary, I’m watching the smoke and will bring them inside if I need to. And Mum – she’s 83 and has serious health problems, so is probably quite susceptible.
All good though, we’re safe and sound.