New Zealand has been hit hard by Cyclone Gabrielle, which brought widespread flooding, landslides, and power outages to the country’s north. At least four people have lost their lives, with several others still missing. The storm caused more destruction in New Zealand than any weather event in decades.
One of the confirmed deaths was a child caught in rising water at Eskdale on Hawke’s Bay, where all four fatalities occurred due to Cyclone Gabrielle. Two people died in landslides, and two drowned. In addition to the deaths, the storm left several communities isolated by floodwaters, landslides, and telecommunications outages. As of Wednesday afternoon, police had received reports of 1,442 uncontactable people in the North Island.
While the government expects most of the uncontactable people to be accounted for, there are still several people missing, with police holding grave concerns. Emergency responders have rescued over 1,100 people, with around 9,000 people forced from their homes since the Cyclone Gabrielle hit.
In the Hawke’s Bay area, more than 300 people were rescued, with 60 people stranded on a single roof. By late Wednesday, all individuals and family groups were expected to be rescued. The government is prioritizing restoring power and telecommunications, delivering food, water, and medicine to where it’s needed.
A naval ship has left Auckland with drinking water for Hawke’s Bay communities, and another ship will follow with vital supplies on Thursday. Emergency responders are also delivering bottled water to 3,000 people by helicopter. The government has planned a barbecue for 3,000 people in the Hawke’s Bay town of Wairoa on Wednesday night.
Around 160,000 properties on the North Island were without power on Wednesday from, down from 225,000 on Tuesday. Princess Anne, who visited New Zealand’s disaster management headquarters in the capital, Wellington, praised the nation’s response. The government has declared a national emergency, enabling it to support affected regions and provide additional resources hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.