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Supporting yourself, your whānau, and others after a storm

Severe weather and major storms affect wide areas and can be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain or snowfall, thunder, lightning, tornadoes and rough seas. They can cause damage to property and infrastructure, affect crops and livestock, disrupt essential services, cause coastal inundation and can damage utility poles, causing widespread power outages.

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings are issued by MetService and available through the broadcast and social media, by email alerts, and at These warnings indicate imminent danger and should be taken seriously.

How to prepare for storms

The following information has been adapted from NZ Civil Defence. For more detailed information on emergency steps to prepare yourself and your whānau, check their website.

Before a storm

  • Develop a household emergency plan and assemble and a portable getaway kit of supplies
  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household and pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail
  • Prepare your property for high winds, securing large heavy objects, including trees and shrubs, that can become a deadly or damaging missile
  • Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home
  • If farming, know which paddocks are safe to move livestock away from floodwaters, landslides and power lines.

When a warning is issued and during a storm

  • Check Metservice for weather updates. Your local radio stations and civil defence authorities will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community
  • Put your household emergency plan into action and have your getaway kit at the ready in case you have to leave in a hurry
  • If the wind becomes destructive, stay away from doors and windows and shelter further inside the house
  • Water and power supplies can be affected in severe weather, so it is a good idea to store drinking water in containers and fill bathtubs and sinks with water
  • Unplug small appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges so that damage is minimised when power is restored.


In a snowstorm, the primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power and telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. It is important for people living in areas at risk from snowstorms to consider the need for alternative forms of heating and power generation.


Tornadoes sometimes occur during thunderstorms in some parts of New Zealand. A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air extending downwards to the ground from the base of a thunderstorm. Warning signs include a long, continuous roar or rumble or a fast approaching cloud of debris which can sometimes be funnel shaped.

Recovering from the emotional impact

If you are anxious, nervous or are having stress-related ailments after the storm, chances are you are not alone. Often, the best source of assistance in dealing with the emotional aspect of emergencies is found in talking to someone you love or trust. To help you best manage the emotions associated with the storm, try to use coping mechanisms that are familiar and comfortable for you. If you or someone that you know is having an acute emotional reaction that does not subside over the period of a few days, it may be best to seek the assistance of a medical or mental health professional, who are well equipped to help you to find the best strategies to cope.

Helpful Links

Civilian Defence: What to do during a storm (NZ)

Storm Information for Kids (NZ)

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

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