Learning to adapt in times of adversity

Snodgrass Road homeowners Noel and Clare Burr are no strangers to stress and pressure.

Though now retired, both were once air traffic controllers – a demanding job requiring high levels of responsibility with inherent stress by its very nature and the complexity of the tasks involved.

They make no bones about the fact that living on Snodgrass Road in recent times has been no picnic. Like so many people in Westport and other parts of the Coast, when it rains anxiety inevitably creeps in.

For Clare Burr, it’s about learning from experience and adapting as best she can.

Her animals are a key concern. She has chickens, dogs and three horses and says she worries about them in a flood and working out exactly when is the best time to move the horses in particular.

To make things simpler, Clare is reducing the number of horses she owns and not replacing her chickens.

She and Noel follow the river levels on Te Kuha on the Regional Council’s website to try and anticipate if they’re going to be affected in potential flood situations. They have ‘go bags’ and a plan to get out if things get gnarly.

“You have to take each day as it comes. This isn’t the sort of retirement I had in mind, but I am focusing on adapting. We are forcing ourselves to adapt. It can be draining, but we’re going to stay here and make it work,” says Clare.

Noel Burr says they have tried to take ownership of what they can to improve their situation. He says Cyclone Fehi resulted in sea water coming through one of their paddocks and affecting neighbouring properties, so they closed the gap themselves at personal financial cost.

Noel credits his experience as an air traffic controller in helping him get through.

“Understanding and accepting what you can and can’t control is key.”

Noel says he’s very grateful for the support they have received from their navigator at the Community Hub.

“It was a great idea to create that service. Our navigator has been pivotal in supporting us along the way,” says Noel.