Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Civil Defence’ Category

Tell the Government: Don’t Cut Our Future!

Posted by on April 27th, 2011


t Cut Our Future

Gumboots take off

Posted by on January 18th, 2011

Gumboots- Operation Angel QLD floods

Today in Melbourne the 1600 gumboots donated by The Warehouse were loaded onto trucks along with other essential relief supplies headed for Queensland where they are being named as a critically important item in the flood clean-up. No doubt they’ll be needed in Victoria too.

Organised by relief agency, Operation Angel, who last worked in Victoria’s Bushfires, thousands of gumboots have been loaded onto trucks by volunteers and carried free of charge by Toll Transport to Brisbane, Somerset, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Esk, Laidley & Riverview.

Word of this quirky, but vital initiative has spread around the globe with stories running on CNN, BBC World, New Zealand media & PRI radio across the USA.

1600 of the gumboots were donated by The Warehouse, along with hundreds more from Bata in Victoria. The latest major boots donation came from iconic Aussie brand Blundstone with 3000 pairs of boots – 1000 from Australia, and 2000 to be shipped over from New Zealand. (I’ve got a pair of blundstones)

Via a hugely successful radio and viral Twitter campaign, scores more pre-loved gumboots have been donated by members of the Australian public, along with sturdy metal gardening tools and other items.

Offers of gumboots have flooded in from corporate donors around the globe following Jonathan Mann, CNN’s lead anchor’s interview with Operation Angel’s Founder and Director, Jacqueline Pascarl, as the prime time lead story internationally.

Jacqueline is pictured above (on the right). Not sure who other person is.

Gumboot update

Posted by on January 14th, 2011

Had a bit of new information about where the gumboots are going to.

I’ve also had it confirmed by The Warehouse that there are 1600 (not 1200) pairs of gumboots. Thanks.

They’ve been picked up and are awaiting their flight to Melbourne on Sunday. Thanks Qantas.

All the costs have been covered by The Warehouse, Qantas and Toll Group (an Aussie trucking company)

Operation Angel has determined that they are destined for the Lockyer Valley (around Gatton and Grantham).  The Lockyer Valley is 70km east of Toowoomba.

I understand the loss of life and of entire communites has been significant in this area and the clean up  for kilometres around is still designated a coronial scene.

Our thoughts are with the people of Queensland.

More commercial donations of gumboots, waders, mosquito nets, coils and repellent are needed.

If it weren’t for your gumboots

Posted by on January 13th, 2011

Huge congratulations to Clare Curran for organising from scratch for 1200 pairs of gumboots to get from New Zealand to Australia to help with those in caught up in the floods.

So to celebrate, a song. Well done Clare, great work.

Gumboots unite NZ and Oz

Posted by on January 13th, 2011

Phew. Compared with the enormity of what Queenslanders are facing right now, organising a few gumboots isn’t much. But I’m glad it’s done. And it seems to have united the Kiwi and Oz spirit.

On Sunday, 1200 (pairs of) gumboots provided by our very own NZ company; The Warehouse, will fly out of Auckland headed towards the flood recovery in Queensland. Big ups to The Warehouse. I know it was a team effort, but Rachel Walker and I seem to have become friends as a result.

Why gumboots? There is a chronic shortage of gumboots in Australia. It’s not the season for them. And to be honest, I’m not sure that gumboots are really the essential item that they are in NZ.

Throughout flood-swept Qld people are being told by Mayors, by Premier Anna Bligh and by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, to be careful of their footwear. Not to wear thongs (jandals).  Once the clean up begins gumboots will be essential, for adults and kids.

The gumboots will go to Toowoomba, where Operation Angel, an organisation based in Melbourne, is directing its efforts.

On Tuesday night I got a text from my sister Judith who said our mutual friend Jacqueline Pascarl had been in touch to say she was reinvigorating Operation Angel to coordinate a recovery operation in Toowomba, Queensland. She said among the most essential items were gumboots and mosquito nets, coils and repellent. And would I help?

Jack’s a tenatious person and is good in a crisis. She’s a Patron of Care International, and a bunch of other things, and she’s had a lot happen in her life. So I sent an email to Stephen Tindall of The Warehouse late Tuesday night and by close of business Wednesday  they’d found 1200 pairs of gumboots.

It took a bit longer to organise how to get the gumboots to Oz. I won’t say too much about that, but after I emailed CEO Allan Joyce this morning, by this afternoon Qantas had got back to me saying they’d be pleased to transport the gumboots to Oz.

I understand the gumboots will be flown to Melbourne via Auckland on Sunday and then transported free by truck to Qld, courtesy of Toll Group in Oz.

The generosity of NZ and Oz companies is fantastic and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

John Clarke (aka Fred Dagg) would be proud.

A bit of info about:

Operation Angel is a not for profit, secular, humanitarian organisation founded in 1997 by Jacqueline Pascarl to assist the women and children of the war-torn Balkan states. Reinvigorated during the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Crisis, it has since evolved into a rapid response, community and volunteer support organisation, priding itself on being lateral thinking and responsive – filling niches that are often overlooked in the time of emergency and disaster.

Jacqueline is a friend and a very special person.

PS: Mosquito nets, coils and repellent are still needed. And probably more gumboots. Can you help?

Qld needs gumboots and stuff

Posted by on January 11th, 2011

Got contacted tonight re Queensland floods from a friend in Melbourne who is helping coordinate a relief effort, to say that there’s a serious shortage of mosquito nets, coils and repellent in Australia. And in particular, gumboots and waders.

Well not sure about our capacity for mosquito stuff, but surely us Kiwis can do gumboots.

How do we get gumboots, and then get them to Oz  quicksmart?

Disaster Preparedness

Posted by on September 16th, 2010

Interesting to see the reports of Helen Clark’s comments about our preparedness to deal with a natural disaster.

“There were no deaths mostly because there were years of a strong building code and anticipating that New Zealand, on the ring of fire and volcanic area around the Pacific, could suffer such an event,” she said in an online video chat this morning

This reminded me of something I had been meaning to do since the quake, which was to congratulate successive Ministers of Civil Defence and the officials for the work done to improve oure responsiveness to a disaster. I can remember when working in the Beehive the great work that Rick Barker, for one, led to upgrade the systems and processes of civil defence.

Also great to note that Helen was making these comments on a live Facebook chat. Open government at the global level!

Frustration builds for those who wait in Christchurch East

Posted by on September 8th, 2010

I came home from work yesterday utterly exhausted and still without the answers to the questions I am being asked.  I have visited so many people, whose lives are now in such a state of limbo – and I have done a lot of hugging of people who just don’t know what the future holds.  I went back to Pacific Park, Bexley, yesterday morning – only 5-6 streets from where I live – just to see how everyone was.  Orion got their power on after I called them the night before, so at least the ones who were still there had some warmth and light, and the water was on as well.   

The problem for these people and many others where there are pockets of major damage is that they don’t know what’s going on.  And I have found it difficult to get information.  As local MPs we have not been given direct access to someone who can find answers to our constituent’s questions.  This is a flaw in our civil defence processes that I would like to see addressed – I am not saying that MPs should get special treatment – I just think people who represent others need to be able to get answers.  I have been trying to get priority EQC assessments for Pacific Park, Brooklands and the ones off Kingsford Street – so that they can make decisions.  The news release from civil defence this morning suggests this may be happening, but I don’t know if I can rely on it.

Civil Defence have over-ridden a press release put out by the Minister of Education at 3.30pm yesterday.  This actually isn’t good enough.  The public is reliant on news reports and when they hear mixed messages they don’t know what the answer is.  It’s an important issue – the Ministry says schools are out until Monday – Civil Defence says they are out today and beyond that, it is case by case for each Board of Trustees.  Parents do not need this level of uncertainty and I know people are very busy, but the problem has been created in Wellington.  I have contacted both Minister’s offices and Civil Defence says theirs is the correct position and the Minister of Education’s office hasn’t rung me back – even though I called an hour ago.  So my message to Wellington is “get your act together” and let us know what’s going on!

The state of our news. Is it crap?

Posted by on September 7th, 2010

Some more reflections on how the news media has been covering the Christchurch earthquake (#eqnz on twitter).

My previous post reflected my reaction as a member of the public without much access to technology and media during Saturday and Sunday. I was aware of difficulties in quality media coverage getting off the ground in the first few hours after the quake but was reasonably happy with what I saw during Saturday and Sunday when I could access media.

However it’s becoming more apparent that there were issues and that they need to be looked at.

TV3’s lack of continuous coverage on Saturday has created some ructions within that broadcaster. Mike McRoberts has expressed his frustration about this as reported in today’s NZ Herald.

RadioNZ did have a special morning report on at 7am, but resumed ordinary programing and didn’t get it’s act together until well into Saturday morning. That’s simply not good enough.

TVNZ had ongoing coverage throughout the day and into the night. Not sure exactly when they kicked it off.

Prime TV too seemed to have coverage throughout the day. And well into the night. (update on this coming)

I’ve had a number of emails from people reading my previous post saying that they got better coverage from overseas media.

And I’ve discussed the important role that social media has played. Allowing people to make contact with each other via their mobile phone applications for Facebook and Twitter. And providing people with up to date information that the news media wasn’t providing.

It appears that social media was the place where meany people went to get information. I think it’s certainly worth investigating more the important role it plays. Many organisations, including Civil Defence are now using social media effectively, in particular Twitter.

I received info on this new Govt website on the Canterbury Earthquake today via Twitter before any other media.

Blogs like Red Alert are also playing an important role.

My colleague Brendon Burns and Lianne Dalziel are reporting directly on Red Alert from their Christchurch electorates on the extent of the devastation and the human stories they are encountering. All Chch based MPs are affected and working tirelessly. I, like many of my colleagues, feel a bit helpless.

I hope that all NZ media reassess their ability to respnd quickly in an emergency to provide the nation and those directly affected with accurate information and quality reporting. One of the things this emergency has revealed is that there appear to be no working journalists overnight in our country and that our ability to respond quickly at a weekend leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Our public media services; radio and TV and web-based are the most critical at a time like this. We need them to be resourced and responsive.

The news isn’t always crap

Posted by on September 5th, 2010

Some observations about coverage of the Chch earthquake.

I’ve been away since Friday without much access to technology. No laptop or twitter (the app on my blackberry has stopped working). Facebook, email and text ok.

The quake woke me (as it did many others). I was in Wanaka. It was the biggest I’ve ever felt. Rolling and swaying. Seemed to go on forever.

Was paralysed. And a bit scared. Afterwards I went to facebook and put up a wee, slightly plaintive message (4.40am). Got an instant reaction from Chch, Wgtn and Nelson. In Chch the messenger said the quake was still happening, which is when I got an inkling it was bigger there.

I went to the Stuff, NZ Herald and RadioNZ websites on my Blackberry. Nothing. I went to the GNS website to see what sort of quake it was. Nothing. I then turned on TV in the motel and got CNN with a Breaking News banner telling me there was a massive quake centred near Chch.

Someone on Facebook told me there was something up on Geonet. So I went there. They said 7.4 magnitude. I considered ringing someone up. Wasn’t sure who. Didn’t know the extent of it. Lay awake and worrying until I felt I could ring people up at home.

Had to leave early to go up a mountain with child.

Saw some more messages on Facebook about RadioNZ being slow off the mark.

But by the time I got up the mountain there was live TV coverage and the Radio was full of it. And during the day I kept tabs on what was happening by the live footage and breaking news banners on both TV channels. It was a big day for our emergency services and media with the tragic plane crash in Fox Glacier as well.

The live coverage went on late into the night and again on Sunday morning. Impressive.

It may have taken a few hours to get up and running but both TV channels and radio seem to have done a good job. Live electronic media is critical at a time of emergency.

I think ours pretty much did us proud and hats off to the decisions made by both TV channels to send staff to Chch, to call people in and to take regular shows off air and go live through the day. It was warranted. And along with the countless other I add my thoughts to everyone affected.

I’d also like to give credit to Telecom for being onto it and ensuring that there were regular updates during the day about the state of telecommunications particularly for emergencies. I think our telecommunication carriers generally did a good job of ensuring people were able to be in contact with each other.

I would however say two things.

1. Twitter and Facebook (and possibly other social media) have become critical at a time of emergency. I suspect that’s how many loved ones contacted each other, especially if they had an app on their mobile phone (and the electricity was out). People were able to swap their experiences, express their frustration and horror and support each other, as well as provide valuable up to date info throughout the day. So that tells us how important mobile coverage is. Not just for calls and texts.

2. CNN is still King of breaking news (in conventional media)

Below is one of the tweets which will have assisted people follow the twitter conversation during yesterday (and today). The hashtag is the most important thing as it allows you to search Twitter and aggregate your content to follow the conversations.

Note: It was put up at 5.52am and was retweeted 100+ times, which means it will have reached thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people.


Please help us report this story. Contact @breakingnewseds if you’re in Christchurch or elsewhere in New Zealand and have quake info #eqnz Saturday, 4 September 2010 5:52:37 a.m. via

PS: For those of you who haven’t been following, I have written a series of posts titled the news is crap. In this case it isn’t.

Tsunami Warnings

Posted by on February 28th, 2010

As a result of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile, there are tsunami warnings in place for effectively the whole of the NZ coastline, but particularly the east coast. There have been 1.5m waves through the Chathams, and smaller increases recorded in NZ. The key messages from Civil Defence are that this is serious, that later waves may get bigger, and people should stay away from beaches.

Civil Defence site has regular updates.

Our thoughts are with people in Chile effected by the quake. There have been a number of deaths, and many after shocks right across the country.

UPDATE: 11.29am It seems that surges have stabilised for now, but Civil Defence warn there may be higher waves over next 6-12 hours. 1m surge reported in Northland.