Residents in a coastal community in West Auckland have been left fearing for the future, after cyclone Gabrielle brought tons of land down in slips, leaving some homeless.
Muriwai was hit by heavy wind and rain, restricting access to the town and a slip hitting a house resulted in the death of volunteer firefighter Dave van Zwanenberg earlier this week and second firefighter Craig Stevens yesterday.
Now, the community has been left wondering when they will be allowed back in their homes, and what the future holds.
The town came together for the first time after the storm on Thursday.
Resident Andrew Graham said he left Muriwai but was shocked at what he saw from the town on television.
“We lost cell reception, we had to leave, communication has been the biggest crux of this,” he said.
He was questioning what future people’s houses had in the area.
Lola and Peter-John Engelbrecht also live nearby. Lola is head teacher at Precious Pipis childcare and said families in Muriwai had banded together.
“We’re just holding our breaths and praying for a good outcome,” Lola said.
Peter-John said what the community needed now was support. “It comes down to ‘how can Auckland Council support [those affected by the cyclone] as soon as possible’. It’s just too much to comprehend.”
At a community meeting held at the Muriwai Golf Club on Thursday evening, locals were guided by Auckland Council and Emergency Management as to what the next steps would be.
The sticker process was outlined and explained, giving residents some clarity on what it meant if their home had been white, yellow, or red-stickered.
Anxious murmurs rose from the crowd as emergency management staff said they would re-assess some white-stickered houses with the latest information they had, and that this could mean some previously white-stickers could turn red.
One resident raised their concerns about potential looters, asking how long the cordon blocking access to the town would remain in place.
Some voiced their worries ahead of more forecast rain, asking how the town and surrounding cliffs would fair if another deluge hit.
Others shed tears, as the volunteer fire service acknowledged the loss of Dave Van Zwanenberg, and prayed for the swift recovery of his colleague, still in a critical condition.
Rodney Ward Councillor Greg Sayers was also there and said council was doing everything they could to help. “There’s a lot of sadness in the community,” he said.
He acknowledged that there had been a void from council around Muriwai, but that they were there now and ready to lend a hand. He urged locals to refer to the council website if they have any questions.
Sayers also had a clear message for the rest of Auckland.
“Please respect the sadness and the grieving that’s occurring in this community, stay away, this is a cordoned area, this community is in a state of recovery.”
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.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz