Editorial: I'm drilled in the need to prepare

By Andrew Austin

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No sirens, no bells - I glanced at my "personal" cellphone at precisely 9.26 yesterday morning.

That in itself was clearly an indication of how deep the first-ever nationwide New Zealand ShakeOut drill had imprinted itself on my consciousness.

Hawke's Bay Today had worked on stories over the months leading in, and then on Tuesday for yesterday's edition. So the significance of the time was fresh.

I'd also spoken to my primary school-aged twins about their preparations. Apparently, the younger students at school were standing up during rehearsals, only to be brought to heel by the eminently more sensible older students.

Mere seconds after I'd glanced at my cellphone, the Civil Defence sirens went off in Napier, the bell went off at the school across the road, and I didn't drop, cover and hold. That didn't seem necessary, as I navigated my laptop and drank a coffee in the solitude of my own home.

But I did think about how unprepared I am for "a big one", which would likely have stopped my twin pleasures through denial of electricity and spillage. It might also have knocked me off my chair.

Then I would have faced the truth of having no emergency kit stored away, various pieces of furniture around the house not fixed to walls. And I visualised the helplessness I would feel.

Even at home, at 9.26am my twins would have been across the road, unprotectable against the beast that is nature.

Similarly, my eldest daughter down in Marewa.

At least my personal cellphone was fully charged. But would the networks work?

As for work and the need to get the news out: I would have found my HBT cellphone after much searching when someone called me, if they did, or when I put my black shoes on. That's where I found it. Inside a shoe, which had been stored in a sports bag while I went for a cycle the night before. How long it's charge would last, I had no idea.

Soon after the sirens stopped, I looked outside and took in the view from Napier Hill on a pristine day.

It would be easy to dismiss yesterday's drill. Personally I applaud it, and offer a nod to Minister of Civil Defence Chris Tremain, the nearly 50,000 Hawke's Bay people, and more than 1.3 million New Zealanders who took part yesterday.

It really made me think.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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