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Cyclone Gabrielle update: 14 Feb, 4pm
He whakahou a Huripari Gabrielle: 14 Feb, 4pm

Hawke’s Bay is still reeling from the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, as Civil Defence and lifeline services grapple to gain a full understanding of the situation with the failure of cellphone towers which has severely limited information flows.

The situation remains dynamic with new information still coming in and emergency services still undertaking foot patrols and rescues. 

In Wairoa, the Wairoa River has burst its banks, inundating 10-15% of the town which is home to around half of the town’s 8000 population. With no power or phones the only communication is via satellite phone. There is very limited supplies of food and water with no drinking water supply due to the flooding.

The Mohaka Bridge on SH2 has been damaged, cutting off Wairoa from the south. With Tairawhiti – Gisborne heavily impacted by the cyclone the roads north are also impassable, isolating around 8,000 residents.

In CHB, the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers have topped their banks, and there is a high probability of the stop bank failing with continued rainfall. The town water supply has failed due to flooding and the community are relying on their emergency supplies.

In Hastings and Napier, around 16,000 people are without power, and, because there is a serious Transpower grid issue, it says it could be days or weeks before power is returned to all customers.

The Ngaruroro River overtopped its banks, resulting in the evacuation of Ōmahu. Earlier in the day Taradale and parts of Meeanee were evacuated given the level of the Tutaekuri River, however that alert was lifted at 4pm and reisdents advised they could return home.

A number of bridges remain impassable, including Fernhill Bridge (Ōmahu), Vicarage Road (Puketapu), Waiohiki (Taradale) and Brookfields Bridge (Meeanee) and the Esk Bridge north of the SH2 intersection with SH5.

Waka Kotahi has closed the bridges on SH2 due to safety concerns. Combined with roads being blocked due to flooding and trees, Napier and Hastings are now isolated from each other. The Hastings and Napier drinking water supplies remain operational but with the community asked to restrict their use to reduce the impact on the wastewater network.

Eskdale Valley has been particularly hard hit by the cyclone, with extensive damage.  In addition to evacuation orders and self-evacuations, a number of rescues have been undertaken by emergency services. One person remains trapped in their home in Putorino following a slip.

HB Civil Defence has requested support from the National Emergency Management Agency, with the scale of damage to infrastructure beyond the capacity of the region to manage.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Controller Iain Maxwell said the impact of this cyclone was yet to be fully understood and it is going to take some for all of the impacts to be remedied.

“Our focus continues to be on people and safety, and making sure those who have lost their homes have somewhere warm to be, food and water. The rest of us need to be resilient; looking after ourselves, our families and our neighbours.

“We do need people to understand that there will be a long recovery time - we’re talking weeks and months - following what is an unprecedented natural disaster.”

Key reminders:

  • All non-essential travel should be avoided – roads are dangerous due to flooding, fallen trees, power lines and slips. Go here for Council road closures see  For state highway road information visit the NZTA website.
  • Water should be used for drinking and personal washing only. Do not use dishwashers or washing machines, and avoid showering if possible.
  • If your life is in danger, call 111 for help.

15 February 2023

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