Northampton police recognised for valiant efforts during recovery phase of cyclone Seroja

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Northampton police officers Senior Constable Chris Neale, Sergeant Kevin Taylor and Senior Constable Brock Lucev with family members.
Camera IconNorthampton police officers Senior Constable Chris Neale, Sergeant Kevin Taylor and Senior Constable Brock Lucev with family members. Credit: Supplied

Northampton police officers have been recognised for their unwavering efforts during the carnage of tropical cyclone Seroja, with the Mid West police station one of three team finalists in the WA Police Excellence Awards.

Northampton was one of the worst affected areas when Seroja carved a path of destruction through WA in April, with more than 70 per cent of the town’s buildings damaged or destroyed within the Shire.

Almost every business lost power, except the Northampton Police Station which had a back-up generator.

Destruction from Cyclone Seroja in Western Australia. The Railway Tavern in Northampton
Camera IconDestruction from Cyclone Seroja in Western Australia. The Railway Tavern in Northampton Credit: 7NEWS

Acting Sergeant Brock Lucev, who was one of Northampton police’s first responders, said it was absolute mayhem after Seroja hit.

“The town was in total darkness,” he said.

“But you could see the little police light at the top of the hill — it was like a beacon.”

That crucially enabled local police to set up the station as a command post for recovery and support efforts, with SES and DFES crews working out of the building.

“The first couple of days was absolute chaos inside the station because it’s made for only a small staff — we had to relocate everyone into the court room next to the police station,” Sgt Lucev said.

“We were lucky enough to have police resources sent up from the Great Southern and South West. It meant we were able to provide 24-hour police coverage just to put people’s minds at ease with securing their properties and having police patrolling.

“We got to work face-to-face with the community and keep some normality in town.”

Cyclone Seroja left Northampton in ruins.
Camera IconCyclone Seroja left Northampton in ruins. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian, Kelsey Reid Picture: Kelsey Reid

Sgt Lucev said he was proud of the way the local force had handled themselves in a time of disaster. “Just to dust ourselves off and carry on with the task at hand — we knew it was going to be a big job,” he said.

“Even being nominated, it’s humbling because of the amount of devastation people have gone through for them to still recognise us and take the time out to nominate.”

Sgt Lucev had been in town for only seven months when Seroja hit and said recovery efforts had helped him build stronger ties with the Northampton community.

“It has pulled us closer to together and ingrained us into the community,” Sgt Lucev said.

“I’m planning on being here for quite a while.”

The winner of the WA Police Excellence Awards will be announced on December 9.

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