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Cyclone Gabrielle: More than 2000 people still in evacuation centres in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti

Evacuation centre at Te Aranga marae, Flaxmere.

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An evacuation centre at Te Aranga marae, Flaxmere.
Photo: Henare O’Keefe

The government says there are 400 people in Tairāwhiti and 1900 people in Hawke’s Bay staying in evacuation centres.

Thousands of people have been displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle with many homes severely flood damaged.

Speaking from the East Coast, East Coast MP and Cabinet Minister Kiri Allan said it was uncertain how long people would need to call evacuation centres home.

Welfare centres were working to provide short term emergency housing for those who need it, she said.

Getting communications back up and running was the immediate priority, she said.

“Getting these communities connected, providing the critical support people require right now, and of course looking to the next phase which will be getting people into homes.”

The main concern now is identifying all those people who might need support which entails doing checks in isolated rural areas and ensuring people have access to urgent medical supplies, she said.

“So that’s really where we are now, undertaking those emergency welfare calls to those that need them, clearing up the roads to have that greater connectivity – all bread and butter issues right now just while we get back up and running.”

It was heartbreaking, she said.

“Some people I was holding last night it’s the second time they’ve lost their home – first in Bola now in Gabrielle, your heart absolutely breaks.”

Those in central government were aware they had a fair bit of work ahead “but we are more than geared up and prepared to tackle that task”, she said.

Gabrielle comes on the back of two other significant weather events in this year alone, she said.

“All of governments will engage on both the immediate response that will be required, as well as thinking about the short-term and medium-term response that will be required as well. So I guess it’s all engines go across all fronts.”

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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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