Cyclone Gabrielle is here wreaking havoc

Fallen Trees (Photo: Vector Facebook Page)

Dr Malini Yugendran

14 February 2023

New Zealand’s North Island was hit by Cyclone Gabrielle, causing major flooding and slips that have cut off many residents and homes.

According to MetService, the cyclone is expected to continue moving southeast, close to the east coast of the North Island before moving away to the southeast from late Tuesday.

The full force of the cyclone is affecting the Coromandel and East Waikato, causing extremely dangerous driving conditions due to slips, flooding, storm surges and debris on the roads.

Declaration of States of Emergency

States of emergency have been declared in Northland, Auckland, Thames-Coromandel, Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, and Tairāwhiti.

The New Zealand government has also announced a $11.5 million package to support NGOs and community groups.

Disruptions and Evacuations

As a result of the severe weather, thousands are without power in Auckland and Northland, Coromandel, and the Bay of Plenty.

Vector reported that as at 4 pm yesterday there were more than 13,000 homes without power. “Thousands have been restored since our previous update, while new ones have cropped up, and some are taking much longer to reach and fix., “ it said on its Facebook page. More than a thousand field workers and support personnel are working to restore electricity for Vector.

To report an outage or check an address for an outage go to: Vector.co.nz/outages

Disruptions in air and sea travel

Air New Zealand has cancelled all domestic flights from or through Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, and Taupō until at least midday Tuesday, and some international flights are either cancelled or diverted to another New Zealand airport. Visit their website for more information.

Interislander has cancelled Cook Strait ferry sailings until 2am Wednesday, and Bluebridge has suspended crossings until at least 8.15am Wednesday.

Warnings and Updates

MetService has issued multiple severe weather warnings and watches, including red warnings for heavy rain and severe gales. Cyclone Gabrielle is bringing widespread significant severe weather to northern and central parts of New Zealand. The heavy rain warning is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.

Visit their website to find out the warnings for your region.

Incidents and Casualties

RNZ reported that in Auckland’s Muriwai, two patients were assessed by Hato Hone St John after a house collapsed in a slip, with one in a serious condition and one in a moderate condition. A firefighter is believed to be unaccounted for in the incident.

In Whakatāne, residents who were forced to leave their homes yesterday will be told whether it is safe to return.

Around 100 households in West End Ōhope and Ōhiwa Harbour were evacuated because their homes are low-lying and at risk of flood during high tide, which hit about 1.30 am.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence also issued an Emergency Mobile Alert due to concerns about river levels and surface flooding.

WARNING

Traffic on SH 1. Proceed with caution just south of Mangawhai Road to Wellsford as there may be road closures due to slips in the area. Delays are expected.

On the Auckland Harbour Bridge, strong wind gusts have prompted reduced speed limits and lane reductions, with extra caution advised for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

SH 1 between Warkworth and Puhoi is closed due to a slip between Mahurangi West Rd and Schollum Access Rd. Avoid this route or delay your journey if possible.

SH2 remains CLOSED between Napier and Gisborne.

Track the path of the cyclone on NIWA’s facebook page.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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