Slash flowing onto beaches on the East Coast has posed another problem as a navy ship destined for Tolaga Bay was forced to reroute.
Tolaga Bay is one of the most isolated places on the East Coast following Cyclone Gabrielle.
Slash has been an ongoing problem for the region, with the recent heavy rain and flooding bringing more forestry waste to shore, which also caused damage to infrastructure.
Tolaga Bay Area School deputy principal Shanan Gray told Morning Report they received communication on Thursday night to say HMNZS Manawanui was unable to be reached from the area due to safety risk posed by the slash and had to be sent to Waipiro Bay.
“With our Surf Life Saving rescue team, they made the call they couldn’t do it at night time due to the health and safety at our beach,” Gray said.
“We had a clean up before Cyclone Gabrielle came in and now we’re back to square one of the beach being full with slash.”
There were no shortages yet and the community was supporting each other, he said.
Commander of the joint forces Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour told Morning Report the HMNZS Manawanui was at the harbour entrance in Gisborne as of Friday morning.
Assessments are underway to check if the harbour has been affected by the cyclone or whether there are logs that could pose a safety risk to its entrance.
“That’s definitely a concern, you don’t want to go ploughing into a big floating log … the last thing we want wo do is damage the ship,” Gilmour said.
But in the meanwhile, sea boats would be used to transfer light supplies, he said.
Generators and such heavy supplies could not be transferred by sea boats.
“I would be expect we will be revisiting those places and others in the coming weeks.”
The expectation is HMNZS Manawanui will discharge everything needed then head to Tauranga to reload and the go back again.
Some road access from Tolaga Bay to Gisborne has been restored.
“We only have access from 7am to 7pm,” Gray said. “A lot of our whānau have been going into Gisborne but we’re also facing that issue of not being able to use our Eftpos cards, going back to old school of money on hand, so that’s been a bit of a struggle for some of our whānau here in Tolaga Bay.”
Limited information has come from the coastal community since Monday, but cellphone reception was restored for a while for 2Degrees users. However, Gray said on Friday morning, it appeared to be out again and they had to rely on Starlink.
They had been able to get in touch with most of the people in rural remote areas, he said.
“We just have to be prepared to just go around our community door-knocing, back to the old school way of communicating with our people,” he said.
Some of the farmers who had come into the base at the school were stressed, he said.
“A lot of them are feeling a little bit helpless at this stage.”
Supplies on the way for Napier
Commander of the joint forces Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour told Morning Report they hoped HMNZS Te Mana would arrive in Napier with supplies Friday afternoon.
It will be bringing in more people that can help in the aftermath as well as generators, water, food.
There were 700 personnel available to help in the clean-up and recovery efforts, Gilmour said, and more than 400 were in the East Eoast region.
“A combat support team are in Napier now providing support, not only to our people that are over there but also providing food and again horsepower to assist the local authorities in clearing debris. We’ve got an air detachment over there with three NH90s, we’ve got another one of those in Auckland providing support to that region.”
A second reverse osmosis plant generating water was possibly on its way for cut-off Wairoa on Thursday night, he said.
“The ones we’ve put in there at the moment are the smaller of the two types we have and that’s because we needed to transport them by air.
“Those plants can produce 16,000 litres of water per day.”
The system helps to fine filer water in a way which removes unwanted contaminants.
Eastern District police commander Janette Park told Morning Report that the scenes of the Hawke’s Bay area from air were “incredibly distressing”.
“When you see it from air, the magnitude is unbelievable.”
All available resources are being brought in to help find uncontactable people as there were more than 3500 reports made to find people in affected areas.
Worried friends and family have taken to social media to try find their loved ones – many whom might simply be without power or service.
About 450 had reported themselves as being safe, so it was important to update the 105 phoneline if you make contact with an uncontactable person, Park said.
Staff on Friday night found a group of people in one house, with no power or no communications, she said.
The priority was to reconnect people including in the more rural and isolated areas of Hawke’s Bay, she said.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz