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Friday, September 02, 2005

Are You Prepared?

With everyone talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it is timely to consider our own preparedness. If the shit hit the fan now, would you be entirely self-sufficent for the next 72 hours? Have you got enough water to get your family through 3 days with no assistance? What about food, first aid and medicine? Now, with Katrina fresh in our minds, is an excellent time to Get Prepared. If you've got a plan and kit already, its a good time to review what you've got.

In the past 18 months, we've had three significant events in New Zealand. Only the February 2004 floods appear to have had a formal report released (large pdf, 4.7Mb). I've just had a quick look to see what salient points came out of the floods.

Community Findings
13 The emergency procedures introduced by the CDEM Act are not well understood by the public and by many officials.
14 There is little understanding by the community that they are part of Civil Defence. The concept that everyone should be knowledgeable about how to prepare for, endure and unite to recover from a range of natural and artificial disasters has not taken hold. A public information campaign outlining the principles of the CDEM Act and the role of the public appears necessary.
15 Willing citizens were confused as to the role they could play or how best they could contribute to assist Civil Defence. There is need for public education on the new Civil Defence environment and a rekindling of community commitment to Civil Defence.

Community Recommendations
6 There be a publicity campaign to educate the public on the new Civil Defence environment, the role they play within it, and how best they might prepare for, endure and recover from a civil disaster.
7 The wider public be encouraged to consider their involvement, commitment and contribution towards Civil Defence, and the practical steps they might take to prepare for, understand and assist with such an eventuality.

Don't let this opportunity to make your family more resilient slip you by.

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Posted by Bernard Woolley | 9/02/2005 09:58:00 pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to see such nanny-statism pushed from Sir Humphyreys.

The lessons of New Orleans are simple:
- individual responsibility - everyone for themselves.
if the US govt can't help you, helen certainly cannot
- stockpile necessates at your home and office
- food
- water
- 4WD vechile
- firearms

9/02/2005 10:51:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Anon, you seem to be a little confused between nanny statism and community. There is a difference. One is orders from a central location, the other is people getting together to help each other out.

9/02/2005 11:01:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Yep I'm with anonymous. 'Relying on Goverment' invariably means some fulltime agency is formed which does nothing for most of its existence, then screws up on the big day.

Have a agency for communicating information to the public, sure. Make sure the military has the necessary equipment to step in and offer a hand - all for it. Trying to make citizens part of some government-controlled civil defense agency? Nope. It's their job to perform to our requirements, not ours to perform to theirs.

9/02/2005 11:02:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

But if there is an emergency, AL, Civil Defense will not be govt controlled.

9/02/2005 11:07:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

I think Bernards point was that we, as individuals ought to be better prepared in the event of an emergency.

There are lessons to be learned from our recent natural disasters, and now also Hurricane Katrina.

As well as individually prepared, there is a real opportunity for the community to have some framework for cooperation as well.

This is not really an issue of "Nanny State" reliance as anonymous pointed out - but individuals and communities rising to the occasion rather than floundering.

The government of course, thinks they can sort this out, and have a CD organisation to do it, which is hamstrung from effectiveness on a number of accounts. If they can help, all well and good. I suspect the majoirty of SH readers will be the kind that expect no help from the "government", but any help from local community is going to be good.

I also believe the Armed Forces can play a major role, and is yet another reason to have good equipment (comms, heavy equipment, transport, field hospital, construction), well trained soldiers, and some field experience.

It is possible that CD fail to live up to expectations - bit if it was localised and meshed with fire, police and medical services, it has the potential to be on the scene when needed.

Given that alarge part of the CD for an area are the locals, the question will be if they turn up for duty or head back to protect their families.

9/02/2005 11:40:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

I think Zen gets the gold star. What came out of the 2004 floods is that the public has an expectation that the defence force, and/or civil defence will come and save you. They won't. Even defence can not provide as many resources as some may think. I was trying to make the point that most of New Zealand society expects nannyism in disaster when in fact people must take more responsibility for themselves. You, and your family, and neighbours, will be responsible for getting through at least the first 72 hours of a disaster - maybe even longer. If you get help, you will be extremely lucky.

The defence force primarily provides logistical support. The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is the lead agency for natural disasters.

CD is meshed with the emergency services and councils. That was the whole idea behind the CDEM Act of 2002 which replaced the CD Act of 1983. Each CDEM Group is not just Civil Defence, but all the councils, police, fire, health, etc who all work and plan together. So, in most cases, it is already meshed with other local agencies - because they are the 'owners' of the CDEM Group.

Its not everyone for themselves - that is a selfish worldview. But it is in fact close. Families have to be able to fend for themselves first and foremost. Then you have to be able to help neighbours and members of your community. This is why it is so important to know your neighbours and be on friendly terms with them - you may need their help one day.

And when you say 'relying on government' - do you mean central or local government? Because these two definitely don't see eye-to-eye. If you mean central government, you're probably correct. But local government will be doing their utmost for you as your Civil Defence agency.

9/03/2005 12:51:00 am  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

It's their job to perform to our requirements, not ours to perform to theirs. Kind of. Its your job to look after yourself, and not expect help unless you really really need it. It is their job to prioritise who gets help, and to restore critical societal infrastructure and functions - this is more important than helping the odd individual. This may not totally match with your definition of 'perform to our requirements' - especially if that means 'water, feed and shelter me'. They'll do that eventually, as NGO's such as the Sallies provide food etc, but they'll take time to mobilise.

9/03/2005 12:58:00 am  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Lucyna, thats not so true anymore after Labour pushed through a rather large reform package a couple of years ago. But that would be a whole series of posts in itself. I wonder if the regional councils have managed to meet their new statutory requirements...

The problem in New Orleans is that large numbers of people were encouraged by city officials to move to the Superdome, apparently without proper preparations in place even though they had warning of the storms arrival days in advance. Similarly, other people were told to move to various places on the basis transportation would be waiting for them - this turned out not to be correct.

The centralised system failed for them. I agree that aiming for organisation at a community level is a good thing, with Government focussing on areas individuals can't: specialised equipment and people trained for specific tasks.

I'll reread Bernards post and write some more tomorrow when I get a chance.

9/03/2005 01:03:00 am  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

OK Bernard (was writing my last post at same time as you). Gotta get back to this template...

9/03/2005 01:04:00 am  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

But I do think you've read it wrong - my post certainly is not supporting nanny-statism in this regard. But there is a current public expectation that they will be nannied. They won't, and that is what the public information message needs to be (Recs 6&7). You won't be nannied in the first hours and days, but that is still the expectation.

9/03/2005 01:05:00 am  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Couple more points before bed... AL, I believe that nearly all the CDEM Groups have met their requirements under the new act, however there is a wide variation in the amount of planning undertaken - with the better resourced metropolitian centres doing a lot more than rural groups with fewer resources (this comes back to the funding issue). I think National started the change, and Labour carried it on. I don't believe there was too much partisanship behind the legislation.

Agree that in terms of NO, they created a big problem in concentrating people, rather than distributing them. Problems would have been more easily managed had people been more widely distributed. The city also needed to provide a means of evacuating those that were too poor or unable to evacuate themselves. I think it is becoming apparent that the city said it was 'too hard' and decided to stuff them in the 'dome.

Night all!

9/03/2005 01:18:00 am  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Nevermind, I'm just being cranky. Will make fresh comments tomorrow. In the meantime it looks like the cavalry has finally arrived for the refugees in NO.

9/03/2005 02:46:00 am  
Blogger Paul said...

Actually you would be surprised just how much effort goes into civil defence and emergency management. Central Government washed its hands of it a while ago and dumped responsibility onto local authorities, and they responded by grouping together and preparing plans on a regional basis, which makes sense, because only they have local knoweledge and connections with core service providers such as schools with buses etc, local geography, local risk features.

We all saw how utterly useless the central government response to the Manawatu and Bay of Plenty floods was, it was the local Councils that saw those communities through the event that worked. Central government only saw it as photo opp's for Helen. Sory to be blunt, but I was there and the bitch wouldn't even get her feet wet.

9/03/2005 09:42:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Paul, agreed. I also heard that the few military helicopters that were provided were used a lot for joy rides for politicians and media. Go figure. Now if Helen had had kids, she wouldn't be scared of a little water would she ;)

9/03/2005 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Water (and kids) is for the peasants.

9/03/2005 10:14:00 pm  

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