October 3, 2023

10k displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle as rescues continue

10k displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle as rescues continue

More than 10,000 people are displaced across Hawkes Bay and Tairawhiti as the extent of the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle becomes clearer

Civil Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force continue to rescue people stuck on their properties in Hawkes Bay as the toll of those displaced hits 9000 across the region.

There are also 1500 people displaced in Tairāwhiti bringing the total number of people forced from their homes as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle to 10,500.


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In Muriwai, fire and emergency have found a body believed to be the missing volunteer firefighter who became trapped in a landslide late on Monday night.

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty said news a body had been found in the search for the missing firefighter had hit particularly hard.

Having volunteered for the fire service previously, McAnulty said it was something that would stay with him for a long time.

There have also been two other deaths confirmed in Hawkes Bay and McAnulty was concerned there could be further fatalities as emergency services continue to gain access to cut-off and isolated communities.

There are still 25 rescue jobs underway in Hawkes Bay to evacuate people who are feeling unsafe in their homes. They are all expected to be rescued by the end of the day.

In Wairoa, some power has been restored along with some communications after emergency management was struggling on Tuesday to make contact.

An Airforce plane headed to Wairoa on Tuesday to assess the damage, and food and water deliveries are being organised as the area remains cut off.

Two evacuation centres have been set up in Wairoa and a third is on stand-by.

Northland is also experiencing huge power cuts.

Nationally, 225,000 people were without power yesterday and while the number dropped to 144,000 on Tuesday, McAnulty says there’s still a big job ahead to get people connected.

Work is underway to get provisions to supermarkets and where supermarkets are closed – as of 5.30pm on Tuesday, 41 supermarkets had shut – Civil Defence was working to get food and water to communities in need.

In terms of the severity of the damage in Hawkes Bay, McAnulty said nobody – not even the local Civil Defence – expected the rainfall to be as heavy and destructive as it was.

McAnulty told reporters the Hawkes Bay Civil Defence is a well-prepared and resourced unit and on Monday night was reporting that it was well-equipped to deal with what was coming.

The sheer amount of rainfall exceeded all expectations, and the damage will take years to fix.

In terms of the 10,500 displaced people, McAnulty said some of those people will be able to return home once flood waters receded while others would have friends and family they could stay with.

McAnulty says it is impossible at this point to estimate the cost of the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle and in the case of road networks, it could be years before that assessment is completed.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is due to give an update at 5.30pm from Wellington, where he will focus on work being done to restore power and communications.

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