Over 1400 reported uncontactable after cyclone Gabrielle

Hawke’s Bay flooding leaves community in dire need of help (Photo supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, February 16, 2023

Police issued a statement saying they have received over 1400 reports of people uncontactable across the North Island in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Five people have now been confirmed dead following the storm so far and the Police have extended their condolences to the families of those who have died and continue to make enquiries into the circumstances.

As of 2.30 pm on 15 February 2023, 1442 people have been registered via the Police 105 online reporting form as uncontactable. There are 111 reports of people now safe.

The vast majority of reports are from Eastern District (Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti) alone, with the remainder from across the North Island. The numbers include some duplicate reports of the same person reported uncontactable by different people as well.

While the Police expect a large number of the reports to be the result of communication lines being down, they did confirm that several people are missing in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti areas, for whom there were grave concerns.

Police efficiently manage the work ahead

With other storm-affected districts reporting they can manage their response within existing resources, Police National Headquarters is now focused on critical support for Eastern District.

They are now in the process of redeploying more than 70 staff from the Bay of Plenty, Central, Wellington, Tasman, Canterbury and Southern districts, as well as the Royal New Zealand Police College, to Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti over the next 24 hours, to support recovery efforts and provide community reassurance.

Police deployed 12 Search and Rescue specialist staff to assist with recovery efforts in Eastern District, over the last 2 days, starting 14 February 2023.

Police headquarters released a statement stating that they are aware that “many of our staff in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne areas have themselves been affected by the storm, but they have continued to work hard to support rescue efforts, manage road closures, and make contact with isolated people. Communications into and out of the area continue to be challenging, however, as telecommunication services start to come back online, we anticipate an increase in the number of reports of missing people, found people, damage to property, and demand for basic resources such as food, water, and fuel.”

In Tāmaki Makaurau and Northland, the focus continues to be supporting the ongoing recovery while they are also carrying out reassurance patrolling throughout the regions and in affected areas.

As of Thursday morning, Napier based urban search and rescue (USAR) confirmed that “people are still being rescued.”

He said, “We are finding people have moved to the roof voids of their properties, so we are still rescuing them and there are a large number of people unaccounted for.”

Police assist the community in Whangarei (Photo Supplied)

Major Operations Centre

Police established a Major Operations Centre (MOC) at Police National Headquarters in response to Cyclone Gabrielle on Tuesday, 14 February, 2023.

The MOC is providing logistical, resource and communication support for all districts under emergency management.

An online form has been set up for people to register the names of family or friends uncontactable in storm-affected areas.

Cyclone Gabrielle has severely impacted electricity supply and communications in parts of the North Island, particularly Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay.

Police urge anyone concerned about friends and family to try their usual methods of communication first, whether that’s a phone number, email, social media or a pre-planned emergency meeting place.

When all means of contact have been exhausted, anyone with genuine concerns for a person’s safety is asked to provide as much information as possible via the 105 online form: https://forms.police.govt.nz/person-inquired-for

Police will use that information to make further enquiries, as and when able.

They continue to urge those who can to call 111 if they are in immediate danger.

Local Civil Defence Emergency Management groups will issue updates and information as their districts enter a recovery phase.

More information can be found on the National Emergency Management website.

The Waka Kotahi website has information on road closures in affected areas.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

 

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