Evacuation tests Red Cross skills

Nelson Mail - 5 January 2000

The Nelson City Red Cross pulled out all the stops during the weekend after it was called in to help Gathering patrons suffering from hypothermia.

President of the Nelson City branch of the Red Cross, Liz Hayman, said it received its first call for assistance on Saturday afternoon, and responded by transporting 40 blankets up to The Gathering site on Takaka Hill.

It received a further call on Sunday to provide dry clothing and find accomodation for up to 300 people abandoning the 48-hour dance party. [see note 1 at end of article]

Mrs Hayman said all the Red Cross's local personnel were called in to assist. Twenty Red Cross members and their spouses turned out "at a moment's notice" to help. The local field officer's husband, a master at Nelson College, had arranged for accommodation to be made available, Mrs Hayman said.

"It was extremely lucky that it was school holidays and the college was available. At any other time it would have been a very tricky situation."

While fewer people than expected arrived, Mrs Hayman said more than 80 people had required Red Cross assistance. They all needed dry clothing, and had to be ferried from the Salvation Army base in Rutherford St church to Nelson College.

Mrs Hayman said the Red Cross had continued ferrying partygoers to the college until 1.30am. It had also shifted the registration of arrivals to the college after the Salvation Army base closed.

Sonia Speedy, Nelson Mail, 5 January 2000

note 1

This is inaccurate reporting. 300 people left The Gathering site on January 2 on buses, as they had always planned to do. We provide a bus service between both Nelson & Motueka and The Gathering site for people who do not have their own vehicles. This year, 300 people chose to use that service. They were neither evacuating nor abandoning the site, they were simply leaving.

We'd like to thank Nelson College, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross for enabling Gatherers to find accommodation for the night. In a normal year these people would probably have camped. The bad weather, in association with the larger than expected numbers at The Gathering 2000, meant that this option was not easily available this year.

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