May 29, 2023

‘We will rally round’: Emotional Muriwai TV chef says community will help as search goes on for missing firefighter

Watch: TV chef Michael Van De Elzen discusses the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on his Muriwai community.

Celebrity chef and west Auckland resident Michael Van De Elzen says the community is rallying around one another as they await news of the firefighter who went missing after a landslide took out a house.

Two homes collapsed in Muriwai overnight, one of which trapped two firefighters. 

An urgent search and rescue operation for one of the firefighters was suspended due to the dangerous environment, while another is in hospital in critical condition.

More than 200 people have been evacuated from their homes in Muriwai since the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“I know the firefighters would have been locals because they’re voluntary so we will rally around,” Van De Elzen said.

“I’ve already had untold messages from locals – they’ve got spare beds, they’ve got spare food, they’ve got everything – we’ll do the same. We’ll use our facilities to cook meals for as many as we can,” he told Newshub.

Van De Elzen said Cyclone Gabrielle was “like nothing else” he’d ever experienced in the region, even though they’d been hit by flooding in January and had had a severe storm four years ago.

“I thought that was one of the worst storms I’ve experienced, but last night, last night was something else. Our property is pretty well set up to handle winds, but nothing like what happened last night. I’m over this weather,” he said.

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