A conversation between Shaun Koopman and Meredith Starkey, the Emergency Program Coordinator for the Village of Zeballos.
1. What is your role with the Village of Zeballos?
Meredith Starkey: I am an administrative clerk with the Village of Zeballos, supporting a wide-range of Village functions.
2. To what do you attribute your interest in emergency management and when did you first become aware of your interest in this discipline?
Meredith Starkey:I have long been fascinated by natural disasters, fueled by family trips to Mount St. Helens (in 1986) and that supervolcano otherwise known as Yellowstone National Park. As a kid, I was drawn to the awesome, destructive power of nature. As an adult, my interest has shifted to our resilience in the face of it.
3. What is your academic background?
Meredith Starkey: I have a BA in Geography and a Master of Urban Studies, with a special focus on sustainability indicators and performance monitoring.
4. What do you do on the job and what are your favourite aspects of your work?
Meredith Starkey: I am so new to this role that I am still learning what it entails! I have a history in Planning, so the first thing I did was to read our existing emergency plans. I’ve enjoying learning about the unique challenges facing Zeballos and the inventive strategies employed to meet them.
5. What are some vital lessons your role has taught you?
Meredith Starkey: Zeballos is the smallest municipality in BC, but that doesn’t mean we have the fewest (or smallest) hazards to prepare for. We do, however, have fewer hands to share the responsibility. Like many small communities, our emergency preparedness and response capacity is reliant on dedicated volunteers, and we struggle to adequately fill those positions. This leaves us vulnerable.
6. How do you feel your job will be influenced by climate change?
Meredith Starkey: In Zeballos, I expect that we will need to prepare for increased flooding and higher sea levels, more frequent and more severe storm events, as well as related landslides and washouts on the road that could strand residents for extended periods. Certainly, adapting to and mitigating the risk from climate change will be one of our greatest challenges in the years to come.