Susan O’Regan was only days into her new job as Waipā mayor late last year when she sought a briefing with the council’s Emergency Management team.
“There were a handful of things that were very quickly thrown into my diary and one of them was a briefing with Dave Simes and Wayne Allan and then with Julian Snowball.”
They are the local and group Civil Defence emergency management controllers for the Waikato region.
She was given a ‘Guide for Declaration to and Transition from a Local State of Emergency’ which she now carries around with her everywhere she goes.
It has all the procedures, contact details and the form a mayor must complete to call a State of Emergency.
Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk has the same guide which she carries with her in case she needs to deputise for O’Regan.
“A lot of our staff were involved in the emergency response in Waitomo. We have a cooperative joined up effort. We were really proud we could help our neighbours out. I didn’t feel I was ill-prepared or unable to respond if the weather went foul on us.”
O’Regan said she is well aware of the importance of a mayor in an emergency.
“It’s a public facing role to present that response and recovery function. Predominantly my role, had we been in that situation, would have been people and welfare focused and concerned for people’s safety and their properties.
“It’s about showing empathy and concern and presenting a calm face and having complete confidence in the response your officials and your district has undertaken and has everything in hand.”
O’Regan said Waipā seemed to have “dodged a bullet” on the weather front but she and staff were keeping a close eye on things as more bad weather was predicted. Council staff will continue to monitor levels on both the Waikato and Waipā rivers.
She would not be drawn on Auckland mayor Wayne Brown’s response to the flooding emergency on Friday.
“My heart goes out to Aucklanders. They’ve got a bit of a road ahead of them. Absolutely my huge condolences to families who have suffered losses. These are exceptionally hard times for them.”