New Zealand entered a national state of emergency for only the third time in history as Cyclone Gabrielle savaged the North Island this week.
Emergency management Minister Kieran McAnulty declared the national state of emergency on Tuesday morning, with seven regions affected: Northland, Auckland, Tairāhhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Tararua.
The cyclone caused widespread flooding, road-closures, hundreds of people being evacuated, hundreds of thousands of homes without power, and some communities such as Piha, Muriwai and Karekare being largely or completely closed off. Minster McAnulty says the need for additional resources and a nationally coordinated response was equal to the previous two national emergencies – the Christchurch earthquakes, and the pandemic.
Waiheke Local Board deputy chairwoman Bianca Ranson, who is a board liaison with the local Emergency Response Network, says Waiheke was well-prepared, and the community, from volunteer groups to businesses, tradies and boaties selflessly stepped up to help get everyone through the cyclone. “The Waiheke community have again shown their concern and generosity for each other and our environment,” she says.
People took note of the warnings, got prepared and followed advice to stay home where possible, and promptly and clearly reported any issues they spotted. “This is the community resilience we can be proud of and what we should build on.”
The island’s civil defence response was coordinated out of the local board office on Belgium Street – which has acted as a command centre and home base for board members and Auckland Council staff during the extreme weather event. It was also the information hub for first responders including police, ambulance and fire fighters so they could get regular updates on the situation from the Auckland Emergency Management team. The Waiheke Amateur Radio Club also provided support to ensure communication-lines remained open no matter what. • Paul Mitchell