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Napier residents struggling without power in wake of Cyclone Gabrielle

A torn up footpath covered in mud

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In Taradale, streets are still lade with silt from the flooding.
Photo: Sally Murphy

In Napier the prospect of the power being off for several more days is starting to settle in – with many heading south to Hastings where power is back on.

Last night, power company Unison said there were still more than 31,000 disconnected homes in Napier but with severe damage to a substation it is not a quick fix.

There is no internet access and cell phone coverage remains extremely patchy.

It is clear many are fed up and with word of the road between Napier and Hastings reopening, hundreds of cars headed south to Hastings which had power restored.

Pauline and her daughter Darryl live on Gloucester Street near Taradale, an area still laden with silt from the floods – they were staying put but said the situation was carnage.

“I’ve got two kids at home that can’t understand why nothing works. We’ve got no fuel can’t take them anywhere. Got no food,” Darryl said.

“We’ve heard no news, we don’t know when the power is coming on, we don’t know if the water is ok, it’s so hard to get information when nothing is working.”

They said there should be a sign outside the council where people could see up to date information.

“Neighbours are helping each-other out but we haven’t seen anyone from Civil Defence, the council, nothing, where is the army?”

Pauline, who worked as a health assistant for maternity services, said vulnerable people like pregnant women and the elderly were suffering.

“When people don’t know what’s going on, it’s really hard, I don’t know what to tell my elderly neighbours.”

At the evacuation centre in McLean Park, one women showed up to get meals for her elderly neighbours, she had found them standing at the local dairy waiting for it to open.

But with the power out, almost everything is shut apart from the town’s PAK n’SAVE which had obvious gaps in stock, and a cafe in the town’s centre which had been busy pumping out black coffees and cheese scones.

Hapi owner Gretta Carney said it made sense to open because they had a generator.

“I didn’t know whether to or not but I really didn’t want to waste the food and I think people just need a place to gather to have a coffee and chat and everyone is saying a big thanks for doing so.

“It’s been really interesting seeing the mix of how people are dealing with things, but I think most people in town are just without power they haven’t been flooded out like some people on the outskirts and I think it’s just important we remember that people have floated away on their houses.”

Carney said the information blackspot meant many did not grasp how widespread the damage is.

“It’s very old fashioned, people are walking people are biking, people are visiting each other to share messages. And people are exchanging information in a way that we always used to and I guess we’ll keep doing that until the power and phone lines are back up and running.”

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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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