People should be prepared for the number of fatalities in the wake of the cyclone to increase, the prime minister says.
Chris Hipkins is speaking to media from Wellington, and says every available resource is being used to help find those who are missing and to rescue those who are known about but unable to be reached.
Over the past two days the rescue coordination centre had overseen 450 rescues and all rescue requests in the 111 system had been completed, Hipkins said.
says the damage in Gisborne is extensive and there is “absolutely no doubt” that communities impacted are under enormous pressure.
Communication was incredibly difficult for some people and both fibre routes in and out of Gisborne had been damaged with engineers working to repair the damage as fast as they could, Hipkins said.
The government was trying to get hotspots and other temporary measures in place and 10 more Star Links were on their way to Gisborne. Five units have been delivered to Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay, with more on the way.
“We’ve been able to reach Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay by road today and SH2 to Gisborne has also been opened on a limited basis for convoys of emergency supplies including food, water and fuel.”
Temporary supplies were on route and more would be arriving soon, he said.
“Fresh water is clearly an issue.”
The navy ships were ready to sail as needed.
The damage to roads in all areas was one of the most significant challenges and people in these areas were asked to minimise their own movements so supplies could get to where they were needed, Hipkins said.
“Encouragingly, every region now has an alternative route that allows us to get lifelines into them.”
“Everything possible is being done to bring back power to those areas that have been hard hit by the cyclone.”
The most recent information is that approximately 102,000 customers are without power across the upper North Island.
Gisborne is a particular focus at the moment.
Hipkins said the government had released $1 million as an immediate top up to the mayoral relief fund as the first step to help get immediate support to those who need it.
A further $1 million had been released to the Hawke’s Bay.
Earlier, Hipkins flew to Gisborne for his first in-person look at the scale of destruction from the cyclone.
Police are sending an additional 100 staff into Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay areas.
The police eagle helicopter will be deployed tomorrow.
More to come…
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