New Zealand has formally asked Australia for assistance as the nation moves to clean up and recover from the trail of wreckage that Cyclone Gabrielle left.

On Wednesday evening, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake also struck near the nation’s capital, Wellington. However, no tsunami warning was issued because the quake was “too deep to perturb seafloor,” GeoNet wrote on Twitter.

The deputy head of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Office, Elizabeth Peak, told the Senate that both emergency management teams had been working together over the last few days on providing possible support.

“We set up yesterday a national management coordination function to be able to respond very quickly when the request came through, and we will certainly do that,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Police walk up Dartmoore Road on foot to check houses and search for bodies in Napier, New Zealand, on Feb. 16, 2023. (Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

New Zealand is also currently “accepting offers of international assistance,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

He said it had been a significant and “traumatic” weather event for everyone affected.

“The damage is extensive, and we’ve just been working to understand the impacts of that on the ground,” he told reporters in an update in Gisborne on Feb. 16.

Current major issues include limited communications to some towns where power and telecommunication infrastructure are down and limited water supply.

Hipkins said authorities were trying to get as much connectivity, despite being limited, through Starlink as possible to enable call and text messages at least.

He added that the country needed to look at the overall resilience of its infrastructure.

“We need to do that with a much greater sense of urgency than we have ever seen before,” he said. “This weather event has really highlighted that for me.”

He acknowledged it would require the government to make big calls and involve big costs.

Clean water supply is also limited in towns, with Napier City Council urging residents against washing down their driveways.

“DO NOT wash silt from driveways or dump debris in drains. This will block our pipes and could cause further flooding,” the Council said on social media. “More rain is expected, and we need to keep drainage networks free to reduce the impact on our stormwater network.”

“It is also a tragic waste of water, and we are working extremely hard to ensure water supply for health and safety.”

Hipkins said there was a convoy of trucks delivering fresh drinking water to areas in need like Gisborne each day, but they also wanted to keep the road usage to a minimum.

Epoch Times Photo
Residents in Taradale clean up silt following flood waters in Napier, New Zealand, on Feb. 15, 2023. (Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

Death Toll to Rise as Recovery Begins

Five deaths from Cyclone Gabrielle have been confirmed. However, the number is expected to rise as flood water begins to recede, with 1,400 people missing. Most missing people are in Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti.

Among the five were a volunteer firefighter, Dave van Zwanenberg, and one child.

On Monday evening, two firefighters had been investigating a flooded property, then became trapped inside following a landslide. The other firefighter remains in the hospital.

“My heart goes out to his family and to his friends and colleagues in the brigade. His death is being felt by our Fire and Emergency whānau right across the country,” Fire and Emergency chief executive Kerry Gregory told 1News in a statement.

“Flags will be flown at half-mast on all fire stations to acknowledge our firefighter’s death.”

Epoch Times Photo
A man walks past a tree uprooted in Cyclone Gabrielle at Titirangi Golf Club in Auckland, New Zealand, on Feb. 15, 2023. (Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Transpower, the state-owned company responsible for electricity infrastructure and market systems, said local companies advised that 40,800 homes remain without power in Hawke’s Bay, of which 31,700 are in Napier.

Flooding of the Redclyffe substation near Napier caused the loss of power in this area.

“Late yesterday, we were able to gain access to our flooded Redclyffe substation near Taradale. An initial assessment indicates that there is extensive damage after flood waters reached heights exceeding 1.5 metres inside the control room,” Transpower said on Feb. 16.

Previously on Feb. 14, the company warned that the community should be prepared to be without power for “days to weeks, rather than hours.”

Due to the extensive damage, the focus will be on creating a bypass for its powerline to connect to another substation 10 kilometres away in Whakatu.



3A045EF7 DB7B 41A2 9BE9 FE6D2E9082DE 262x300 1

Leave a Reply