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Cyclone Heroes – Russell Roads – Civil response to disaster

Russell Roads chief executive Gavin O’Connor is proud of how businesses that usually compete against each other “left their company badges at the door” and worked together to clear debris and repair roads across Hawke’s Bay.

“Everyone really pulled together to get our communities reconnected.  For the most part the company badges have been left at the door and people have collaborated and worked together to deliver what’s best for the community.”

Russell Roads was called on by Fulton Hogan to help out in Hastings while it worked with Higgins on State Highway clearing and repairs. Gavin says the round the clock work did have a toll on his staff, many who had personally been impacted by the cyclone.

“A lot of our people were dealing with their own challenges following the cyclone with one staff member’s home washed off its foundations, yet he still returned to work, helped with response work in Puketapu and led our crew on SH5.  “Eventually we were able to send our crew and equipment to his place for a working bee to help with his personal recovery.”

As a business Russell Roads used it’s charitable trust, the George Foundation, to support families find property, pay property expenses and purchase essential furniture as well as buying 18 cords of wood for those in need coming in to winter.

Russell Roads was also significantly impacted by the cyclone with its three quarries damaged with the largest in Maraekakaho suffering extensive damage with loss of product, damaged machinery and general site damage.

Gavin says as we start to look to the future, there needs to be a big conversation about vital lifeline routes such as Napier to Wairoa.

“The Napier/Wairoa road is consistently under threat of closure due to slips and undermining.  Whilst efforts are ongoing to reopen the existing route right now, I believe a permanent solution could offer far more resilience which reduces risk of closure at the same time as delivering economic benefit through jobs, reducing travel time and costs.”