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HomeNew ZealandCyclone Gabrielle: Essentials, including water, trucked into Gisborne

Cyclone Gabrielle: Essentials, including water, trucked into Gisborne

Waimata River in Gisborne, as seen from Stafford Street looking towards the Tainui Sea Scouts clubrooms on 15 February 2023.

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Waimata River in Gisborne, as seen from Stafford Street looking towards the Tainui Sea Scouts clubrooms on 15 February 2023.
Photo: RNZ / Kate Green

Trucks are getting food, water and fuel to cut-off townships along State Highway 2 between Ōpōtiki and Te Karaka.

There are multiple hazards on the stretch of road, which is still closed to the public.

Steve Weatherell, who founded Weatherell Transport in 1994, offered up his trucks for the journey.

Thirteen of them arrived in Gisborne earlier on Thursday, delivering much-needed supplies to the flood-hit East Cape city. That afternoon 15 left the city, to restock.

“It all worked pretty well,” he told Checkpoint on Thursday evening.

“We’re doing the same again tomorrow – probably more units tomorrow, going in – and the same going back out again in the afternoon.”

Until the roads are fixed, Weatherall’s trucks are some of the only vehicles being allowed in and out of Gisborne. The highway is being kept closed to the public so the flow of goods is not interrupted.

He called SH2 “passable in the dry” and “safe enough” for trucks, but doubted it would be if there was other traffic to navigate.

“You wouldn’t do it with opposing traffic coming the other way,” said Weatherall. The road “quite narrow” and “covered in silt and that sort of thing”.

The convoy, chaperoned by Downer and with police manning roadblocks, leaves Matawai for Gisborne about 10am each day, the journey – usually nearly an hour – taking about half-an-hour longer than that. It departs Gisborne at 3pm.

“Essentials, basically, for the supermarkets, and a lot of water,” Weatherell said.

“Truckloads of water, because water’s going to become a very real problem around here shortly.”

Mayor Rehette Stoltz told Checkpoint earlier they had only a day or two left, urging locals to use about a quarter what they normally would. A treatment plant was back up and running, she said, but it would take “a few days to kick in” and replenish supplies.

More potable water is expected to arrive Friday via the navy vessel HMNZS Manawanui.

National Emergency Management Agency advice:

  • Put safety first. Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.
  • Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles.
  • If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home.
  • If you don’t need to evacuate, support those who do by staying home, staying off roads and staying safe.
  • If you are not able to contact your whānau in the heavily affected areas go to Police 105 website and complete the inquiry form or phone 105 and remember to update if you reconnect through other means.
  • Throw away food and drinking water that has come into contact with floodwater as it is often contaminated and can make you sick.
  • If you are without power eat the food from your fridge first, then your freezer. Then eat the food in the cupboard or your emergency kit.
  • People should stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of civil defence and emergency services.
  • A National State of Emergency is in place for an initial period of seven days and applies to regions that have declared a local State of Emergency.

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