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Response Update #1 - Cyclone Gabrielle

Food and supplies are on the way to rural communities in the Wairarapa cut off by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Masterton-based Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for the Wairarapa is in regular communication with local communities, particularly the coastal and eastern areas which have been harder hit by flooding.

The centre has been joined by the Upper Hutt Community Rescue and the New Zealand Defence Force, which has sent a Unimog and crew to the region for support.

They are now assisting Tinui and Castlepoint residents with supplies. Generators for cell towers were helicoptered into the wider rural area on Wednesday to restore cell phone coverage.

Communities are helping each other but are urged to call 111 if they need further assistance or have concerns about their welfare.

Steven May, EOC Controller, said there is no state of local emergency for the Wairarapa at this point, and assures communities who have reached out that help is on the way.

“We’re asking people to be patient, keep their ear on the radio if they have no internet or phone coverage, and to go to their Council websites for more roading information.

“Although there are a number of road closures and slips, they are being cleared as fast as possible and we understand most communities have some form of connection to the outside world.”

Mr May says Council roading and water teams are working extremely hard to re-open the roads and expressed his thanks to the Councils and local agencies for their commitment to the community response.

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Drivers are advised not to travel on impacted roads unless it is essential, driving with extreme care and preferably during daylight hours.

Mr May asked residents to check in on neighbours who might be vulnerable if possible.

Masterton Mayor Gary Cafell says “the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle had been far reaching and, for many, absolutely devastating.”

“As the host council for the Wairarapa response effort, I have seen first-hand the tireless work of our local Emergency Response personnel, council staff, emergency services, community groups and representatives, and locals on the ground in our hardest hit areas.”

“I know that everyone is doing all they can to get help to where it’s most needed and get our communities back on their feet.”

A heavy rain warning for Thursday morning south of Masterton was expected to be lifted by midday.

The EOC advises that flood-stricken residents:

  • Avoid contact with flood water if possible and assume that all flood water is contaminated by run-off from the surrounding environment e.g., farm run-off with faecal matter from animals, sewage, farm chemicals, diesel/petrol from roads etc.
  • Always wash their hands with soap and water
  • Do not allow children to play in flood-affected areas until clean-up is complete. If children have been in flood-affected areas, make sure they wash their hands well afterwards
  • If your property is damaged, take photos prior to clean-up for insurance purposes.

For more information on protecting your health in an emergency, go to the Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand website https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/emergency-management/protecting-your-health-emergency/floods-and-health

Anyone with welfare issues relating to accommodation, food, or other needs because of the severe weather should call 0800 CD WAIRARAPA (0800 239 247).

Rural farmers can contact the Rural Support Trust through their Facebook page @ruralsupporttrustwai

Please keep an eye on the weather and visit MetService for up-to-date weather warnings: www.metservice.com/warnings/home

The WREMO website has a lot of information on staying safe before, during, and after a storm: http://wremo.nz/hazards/severe-weather/

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