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Cyclone Gabrielle response and assessments continue


This morning, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management along with supporting emergency agencies are taking stock of developments overnight, as they prepare for another day of urgent community response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

Across Hawke’s Bay evacuations continue, and assuring the welfare of people displaced from their homes, getting supplies to people who are isolated, and assessing the extent of damage and effects in the more rural parts of the region are a priority.

As of this morning, the Maritime NZ Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said there were 25 active requests for assistance around Hawke’s Bay including people trapped in houses, on roofs and people’s neighbours had been calling in requesting welfare checks.

There are numerous requests for assistance from people with young families and from the elderly. A lot of households also had pets with them.

To date at least 300 people have been rescued through a multi-agency response supported by St John, Police, NZ Defence Force and Fire and Emergency. Helicopter support has also been provided by local companies.

This morning helicopters will be returning to some badly impacted areas to survey and check to see if they can be of assistance, working as quickly as they can, within the changeable conditions.
Getting an overall assessment of the extent of damage across the region, including the more isolated rural areas, and re-establishing roads and power are a focus for today, said HB CDEM controller Iain Maxwell.

“There’s still large areas of the region we don’t have contact with, so we have organised for there to be surveillance flights undertaken to get an aerial view of what’s happening and identify those who may be isolated.”

With Wairoa being a key area of concern this morning, NZ Defence Force helicopters were dispatched to take critical supplies to the district, including equipment to help ensure water infrastructure could continue operating.

This morning power was restored to some of the community, but as with other areas away from the main centres of Napier and Hastings, a lack of communications due to internet and phone services being out was making it challenging to provide support.

“We have key staff heading up there today to get an on-the-ground assessment of the community’s needs, and we have called in our national partners to assist with supporting Wairoa given we are physically separated.”

Restoring a transport network between Napier and Hastings was also a priority, with progress being made creating a route, which at the moment was for emergency and essential access only.

Similarly, work was being done to get a clearer picture of bridges that were affected, and how to overcome access issues where they were no longer passable.

Multiple evacuations were continuing across the region and efforts were being concentrated on ensuring needs were being met.

As well as assisting people with evacuations NZ Police were doing their best to help people locate missing loved ones.

People needing to get in touch with Police to report missing people were advised to call 105 or email

Concerns have evolved today about people heading out in their vehicles and travelling within and between the cities of Hastings and Napier, Mr Maxwell said.

“This is hampering the efforts of emergency and essential supply vehicles. The roads to be kept clear for these services and anyone else travelling in a non-urgent capacity can expect to be stopped by police.”

Individual councils across the region have been running their own Incident Management Teams and were doing a huge amount of work to support Civil Defence priorities.

For information on the location of evacuation centres, or other localised updates and information, the public is advised to go to the websites or facebook pages of the individual territorial authorities involved.

15 February 2023

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