Around 400 people in Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast still haven’t been heard from since Cyclone Gabrielle hit.
That’s down from more than 1000 on Tuesday. But police are growing increasingly concerned about those who are yet to be contacted.
It is a confronting sight along the Hawke’s Bay coast as dogs look for signs of people against a disastrous backdrop.
It used to be the train tracks at the mouth of the Tutaekuri and Ngaruroro rivers, but they’ve been flipped 180 and spat towards the ocean. And canine units were seen as they continue to comb the beach.
While scenes of utter devastation remain, communities wonder where to start the clean up
All as rumours swirl about a growing body count. Eastern District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park shut those rumours down on Wednesday.
“I can’t rule out any future fatalities but I can stand here and say we haven’t located anyone else about the nine people confirmed at this point [in my region].”
There’s a serious concern for those yet to be located.
“I acknowledge people’s pain and hurt trying to find loved ones. We are working hard and our investigation team is well across this. We have more than 100 people in Wellington working towards reconciliation,” Supt Park said.
For those who survived, it’s a case of what now.
Up the Tutaekuri River, Newshub made it to Springfield Rd and Di and Steve’s Gillum’s flood-ravaged orchard.
“We’ve had the benefit of Mother Nature for 30-odd years and Mother Nature decided to take a little bit back,” Steve said.
They escaped battered and bruised after accounting for the dozens of workers.
“This is Gabrielle. She happened 10 minutes in when the flood waters started to come in at home. I thought I better move the nice rugs off the floor and put them up on a table and moving the last one I slipped in Gabrielle’s waters,” said Di.
And it’s medical supplies that remain the big issue for those that survived.
Today, Newshub was there as a lifesaving delivery landed for the region’s type one diabetics.
“Literally it’s taken the diabetic community as an army to get this stuff here,” said Rachel Macquade, who roped in Fire and Emergency and pilots to deliver vital supplies.
“My daughter Maddison was diagnosed with diabetes. We almost lost her,” Macquade said.
It’s also personal for the pilot, Bret Lucas.
“I’m type one diabetic myself. I actually lost my commercial pilots licence, then got it back,” Lucas said.
And the recipients too.
“To see them helping people of my kind and getting supplies to us all makes me happy,” said Maddison.
A little relief in the face of so much despair.