May 29, 2023

Extra police drafted in after Hawkes Bay looting incidents

Extra police drafted in after Hawkes Bay looting incidents

Police to increase presence in Hawkes Bay and the east coast as reports emerge of looting and communities looking to take matters into their own hands

More than 100 extra officers have drafted into the Eastern District, including to areas that were cut off from Cyclone Gabrielle.

It follows a spate of looting across Hawkes Bay where police have arrested five people so far. In one town, Puketapu, residents have set up roadblocks to guard agains looters after a group were found raiding a damaged home, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The police eagle helicopter has been brought in to help track and locate offenders or vehicles of interest.

As of yesterday evening, police had logged almost 1500 jobs throughout the Eastern District, including public reassurance, patrols and vehicle stops.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park said targeting people in a crisis was abhorrent and it would not be tolerated.

“People are hurting, many are still without power, and or are unable to go home.

“Part of our response is being on the streets and in vulnerable areas, deterring the people who want to take advantage of this disaster.”

Meanwhile,  Australian firefighter Graeme Hall, who is leading a team of 25 Fire and Rescue Service specialist firefighters from Queensland, says they will get to work this morning in Hawke’s Bay. 

Graeme Hall said they would be assisting Urban Search and Rescue teams in the Esk Valley as they searched all properties to ensure there were no missed victims. 

He said the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle was extreme compared to what he had seen before in Queensland natural disasters.  

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence says the focus of its cyclone response efforts remains reaching isolated rural communities, including Wairoa.

Yesterday 12 civilian helicopter flights landed in cut-off communities with food, water, and generators, and to check on welfare.

Civil Defence’s Edaan Lennan said those efforts would continue daily, and some communities would need to be revisited and stocked up with supplies.

He said teams were also working to arrange temporary accommodation for those in evacuation centres whose homes had been destroyed.

Lennan said Fire and Emergency had been completing rapid damage assessments in hardest hit areas like Eskdale, and council assessors had also been through.

He said councils would also be working on debris and waste removal, with many transfer stations in the region either closed due to damage, or overwhelmed.

An Eskdale resident said last Tuesday’s alert to evacuate arrived hours after he helped his neighbours to escape their flooded home.

Billy MacDonald said he helped his neighbours out of their flooding home just after 3am.

MacDonald said the alert arrived after 5am.

He said he would not be surprised if people ended up waking up, surrounded by water.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council said the council and Civil Defence were hampered by the lack of data. 

Seven of the 10 sites monitoring river flows and rainfall in the Esk Valley went offline on Tuesday morning when a repeater station failed to relay the data.

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