Preparing for natural disaster

By Doug Laing


New Napier City community resilience and communications manager Marcus Hayes-Jones, originally from England, had been on the job just a few weeks when he heard a tsunami might be on the way this week - up a ladder at the time, at home, trying to install a garage door. He talks to reporter Doug Laing about how things kick in when disaster may, or may not, be just around the corner

1 Firstly, explain the job and its long-winded title?

A: The job is to develop community resilience within the Napier community, through public education, relationship building with businesses and through the Civil Defence volunteers. In the event of a disaster, either man-made or natural, it is to provide Civil Defence leadership and support to the Napier community via various forms of communication/media, while co-ordinating the response of council staff and volunteers in the area.

2 What background did you bring to the job?

A: I have been extremely lucky in my career to date, to be trained in high-pressure planning environments, from my time in the British and New Zealand armies. Additionally, I have been involved in training while serving, a career which has provided me with a skill set ensuring I am able to continue the excellent work of my predecessor in training and preparing council staff, volunteers and the community prior to an event.

3 Have you experienced a significant civil disaster and how prepared were you (alternatively, how prepared are you)?

A: I have experience in dealing with disasters of a man-made nature in operational locations while serving with the British Army. While deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I experienced many civil disaster situations of a smaller nature which required multiple agencies to work together co-ordinated by me. Since being in New Zealand, I have worked in Trentham camp and was appointed to the Hutt Valley Emergency Services Co-ordination Committee (another long-winded title). As part of that group, a response was co-ordinated to assist in the snow which contributed to the cessation of business in much of the valley. I am in my fifth week on the job and fully preparing myself for the role. That said, I am confident I am prepared for the next event and with the competent team here at the Napier council and in the community, we will "get through".

4 Radio, TV, newspapers, sirens, email, text messaging, Facebook, twitter - do they cover all the bases and how do you line them all up when the time comes? What happens when you get the call?

A: Depending on the type and scale of the event, the first port of call is a media release to all media including radio, TV and newspapers, via email, fax and the text alert system. Then the sirens and social media are activated. This order is chosen to fall in line with the education programme which states: "On hearing the sirens, tune into your local radio station." If people are interested in using social media to keep their eye on Civil Defence Napier, they can look at the facebook page or visit and click on the links to Civil Defence.

5 Is Napier really the Brighton of the South Pacific?

A: There are many similarities: Coastal, sunny, a much-loved tourist destination and many Art Deco buildings. Yet there are many differences which place Napier over and above Brighton in my opinion, such as a population in excess of 460,000 and very little space for them all. That said, the name of Sir Charles Napier does still appear on a pub in Brighton so I am sure when you are enjoying a pint of beer in Napier you can think of Brighton as a sort of sister city, then thank your lucky stars you are here in Napier.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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