When I saw incredible images of Cyclone Debbie packing a sad across the North Island, I felt a bit guilty for thanking Mother Nature for spreading her anger across the country, and for once leaving Christchurch out - touch wood.

I know it's not a competition, but our region's been slapped around by Mother Nature more times than I care to remember. The 2010 and 2011 quakes, the repeated flooding episodes of 2014 and 2015, the 2016 North Canterbury quakes, and this year's Port Hills fires.

As residents, we've all become amateur seismologists, geologists, flood mitigation experts and council complainers, but with good reason.

What I've come to learn through these terrible events, is that in many cases it's the human response to these disasters which can be worse than the actual event itself.


If disaster strikes we can't and shouldn't rely on agencies that market themselves as human saviours.

When the November quake hit Canterbury, the mixed messages from Civil Defence were a mess.

The local Civil Defence was posting comments on its Facebook page saying there was no tsunami warning threat to coastlines, but the national Civil Defence was saying there was.

As a result of my following on social media, generated by people interested in natural disaster news, residents have come to rely on me for important public safety messages.

As a talk host in Christchurch, you're more than just a presenter of a morning show because of the unique news to this region. It's high stress, and a responsibility I take seriously. With this responsibility comes a lot of frustration, shared by many in our newsroom, particularly because of the conflicting messages provided by Government and local agencies.

In the case of the November Canterbury quake, the last thing I wanted to do is send half of Christchurch up the Port Hills.

I ended up having to call the national headquarters in Wellington to get a straight answer.

As it turned out, the warning was in force.


Natural disasters bring out the worst in people. (I'll get to the positives shortly)

While I was on-air the morning after the November shake, I received several calls from distressed New Brighton residents whose houses were robbed during the evacuation. Thankfully the scumbag involved was eventually arrested.

Humans can also be incredibly kind during natural disasters. During the Port Hills fires, I was blown away but the offers of support to fire-fighters.

Hundreds of people messaged me on Facebook wanting to know how they could volunteer to help the fire-fighters, or where could they drop off food and baking.

It's these sorts of messages that restores my faith in humans.

There's big business in natural disasters. They're great for bureaucracy.

Several state and local government agencies have been set up in Christchurch to get the city up and running again, with mixed success. First there was CERA, The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, which was rightfully criticised for becoming a bloated organisation with far too many public relations personnel. Then there was the Christchurch Central Development Unit, which was supposed to be responsible for the controversial anchor projects. Now there's Otakaro Limited, which does the same thing, and Regenerate Christchurch, and Development Christchurch.

Following natural disasters, bureaucrats love to trot out meaningless words like resilient.

Don't let them. This word is about as helpful as words like "sustainable cities". The word that isn't used enough is cope. We have no choice during disasters but to cope. That's all we have.

For those going through hell with an uncertain future, cope, but never rely on "officials" to help you through. Canterbury is thinking of you.