March 2, 2023

NEW ZEALAND: Cyclone Gabrielle Hit The Island's Northern Region On Feb. 12 And Then Battered The East Coast, Leaving 11 Dead And Displacing Thousands. Cost To Exceed $10 Billion In Damages.

Sky News Australia published March 1, 2023: New Zealand Cyclone Gabrielle to exceed $10 billion in damages. New Zealand's Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited North Island’s east coast on Wednesday to meet with local farmers who had lost their crops in the disaster.

Cyclone Gabrielle is expected to be one of New Zealand's costliest natural disaster, with the New Zealand government predicting the cost to exceed $10 billion.
NZ Defence Force published February 28, 2023: New Zealand Defence Force: Eastern Response (Cyclone Gabrielle). We continue to work directly with National Emergency Management Agency and the regional emergency coordination centres to provide aid to where it is needed most in the Hawke’s Bay region.

Reuters News
written by Staff
Sunday February 26, 2023

SYDNEY - New Zealand police were searching for eight people still missing after Cyclone Gabrielle struck two weeks ago, authorities said on Sunday, amid warnings of more wild weather for the nation's North Island.

Gabrielle hit the island's northern region on Feb. 12 and then battered the east coast, leaving at least 11 dead and displacing thousands.

"The remaining number of people includes those who, for a variety of reasons, do not engage with authorities," New Zealand police said early on Sunday.

"Regardless, getting in touch with those remaining eight remains a priority for police, and our staff are exploring all avenues to try and locate them."

More than 6,000 were missing in the immediate aftermath of the storm with communications disrupted in many areas, but that number has fallen in the wake of recovery efforts.

Severe weather again hit the North Island on Friday, with heavy rain prompting more evacuations in Hawke's Bay, one of the regions hardest-hit by Gabrielle.

Storms triggered flash floods and evacuation warnings in and around Auckland, the nation's largest city with a population of around 1.6 million.

On Sunday, New Zealand weather forecaster MetService warned that storms were possible later in the day, especially across the North Island and the top of the South Island.

The emergency agency for Auckland warned city residents to get ready for more rain, predicted to hit in the evening.

"The risk of thunderstorms and localised downpours over parts of the country increases tomorrow," Metservice said.

The forecaster said it was possible that two tropical cyclones would develop in the week ahead but added: "At this stage, the risk of either directly impacting New Zealand is relatively low."
Newshub published February 11, 2023: Cyclone Gabrielle in Northland, NZ: Power outages, state of emergency declared. Cyclone Gabrielle has started to hit New Zealand's North Island, with a state of emergency declared in Northland and thousands of properties without power - and the worst of the weather is still yet to come.
Reuters published February 16, 2023: New Zealand grapples with 'devastating' Cyclone Gabrielle. New Zealand stepped up recovery efforts after Cyclone Gabrielle left at least five people dead and displaced 9,000 in the country's most damaging storm in decades. 
ABC News (Australia) published February 22, 2023: In NZ, the water has receded, but the mud has stayed after Cyclone Gabrielle. New Zealand is grappling with one of its biggest natural disasters in history. Since Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the North Island at least 11 people have died, while hundreds of kilometres of road have been washed away, isolating communities where thousands of people are still unaccounted for. Kathleen Calderwood filed this story from the Esk Valley near Napier, where people are still coming to terms with the sheer scale of devastation.

Epoch Times
written by Rebecca Zhu
Wednesday March 1, 2023

On the morning of Feb. 14, after Cyclone Gabrielle struck the North Island of New Zealand, Ashley Church woke up to see backyards and roads completely flooded.

Miraculously, his own house was untouched, just mere metres away from the flood waters.

“I walked down the road; all of the houses there were flooded except ours—ours wasn’t touched. If people had cars in the driveway, they were submerged underwater,” Church told The Epoch Times.

“But that was all we knew.”

With the power cut off and the roads completely flooded, Church’s community in Whirinaki Beach, Hawke’s Bay, had no way of receiving information.

“There was lots of people walking around wondering what was happening. We had no power, no internet, no water,” he said.

“We couldn’t receive messages so we had no idea what was going on.”

Only after the flood waters receded the next day was Church and the community able to truly take stock of what the weather event had done.

It was like a tsunami, but if the water came from the hills instead of the sea, Church said.

“So all the water, millions and millions of litres of water powered down the Esk valley, which is like a funnel, and just destroyed everything on its path,” he said.

“Houses were wiped out—massive, great logs had just cut straight through them. Cars were on their roofs; there was a layer of silt about three or four feet deep. And that was just where we were.”

Church heard that the situation further up the Esk Valley had been even worse.

“It was like a movie set. It was like the apocalypse,” he said.

It took another couple of days before the internet connection was restored.

Meanwhile, authorities had turned off the water due to contamination concerns.

“I was okay because, on my property, I’ve got a 30,000-litre rainwater tank. So I was just saying to the neighbours, ‘bring a bucket, come and help yourself,’ which they were,” Church said.

The Civil Defence army eventually arrived a couple of days later with boxes of bottled water for everyone.

Cyclone Also Brought Hope and Community

Despite the wreckage and loss left behind by Cyclone Gabrielle, Church also gained a lot from the experience.

“There’s neighbours I didn’t know I had, and now I know them quite well because I feel like I spent a lot of time with them,” he said. “We felt like there was a real sense of community which hasn’t been there before, and it will probably stay now.”

He also came to realise just how resilient and adaptable people can be, even without electricity, food, and running water.

“What’s interesting is once the food that goes off goes, because you have to throw it out, you can actually survive for a long time. You can last for days and days and probably weeks if you had to,” he said, adding that people just needed water and something to cook on.

“So quite quickly, [we] got used to it. It was about a week before things actually started to come around.”

National Weather Service Bears Some of the Blame Church also had some criticism for the national services, such as the national forecaster MetService which issues warnings for weather events in the country.

“There’s a bit of a tendency of the MetService to cry wolf,” he said.

“Often, they’ll come out making these exaggerated claims about these things, and then invariably, the event will happen, and it’s nothing near as bad as what we expected it was going to be.

“And so because of that, because they’d cried wolf too often, I think there was a tendency with this event for people to say, ‘this isn’t actually serious,’ which of course it was.”

Recovery to Take a Long Time

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited Hawke’s Bay to witness first-hand the impact of Gabrielle on New Zealand’s primary sector, particularly growers.

“While we can see images of that on the TV news, actually seeing it up front really brings home the reality of that,” he told reporters on March 1.

“When you’re driving past orchards, and you’re seeing caravans in the trees, you just realise the strength of the natural disaster that unfolded. That’s pretty confronting.

“The depth of the silt in areas, seeing people clearing their household contents out on the side of the road because that’s the only place they can put it—it’s pretty tough.”

Hipkins said it was still too early to tell how much food prices will be impacted, as it depended on which crops could still be harvested and which ones would be written off entirely.

Hawke’s Bay was the region most impacted by the cyclone. Power is still being restored across the region, with Patoka the latest town to be reconnected.

The Wairoa and Gisborne districts also continue to receive heavy amounts of rainfall.

Wairoa’s deputy mayor, Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, told Radio New Zealand that on Feb. 28, some areas that the cyclone hadn’t affected are now become flooded from the continuous rain.

“People have rung and said more rain fell last night than Cyclone Gabrielle,” she said.

“People who have been doing all that work in their homes—it’s now mud again, and it’s probably a lot harder to shift because it’s not solid; it’s runny.”

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Education, 24 schools and 53 early learning services remain closed in the region, affecting over 5,200 children.

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