Residents were evacuated from this home in Ruataniwha St, Waipawa, just before the river breached the stopbank.
Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on our region will be felt for many years. Those who have lost loved ones have lost the most and deserve the most care and compassion. Those who have lost homes, businesses and livelihoods need our support to help them get their lives back together.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has taken a major role in the civil defence response, and our staff have contributed massively to the call to arms.
As we move to the recovery stage, our council has made it clear to staff that we expect them to find ways for flood victims to help themselves. The council itself is putting significant resources into environmentally responsible solutions for recovering and sorting waste streams, but cannot do it alone. We will continue to work on developing pragmatic solutions in partnership with affected landowners.
Last Wednesday our council met with staff to outline our expectations. Councillor Jerf van Beek, who experienced the flooding first hand with hectares of apple orchards washed away, and councillor Xan Harding who spoke powerfully and persuasively on behalf of the growers who have orchards and vineyards covered in wood debris.
Our region has been visited by a number of ministers, all of whom have stressed their commitment to our recovery. We have consistently emphasised that we need four-wheel-drive access to our rural communities as soon as possible, and that stock trucks need to be able take stock from farms before winter.
This may mean temporary solutions to roading, with permanent solutions coming later.
Council staff have worked tirelessly to repair damaged stopbanks. There will be a thorough investigation into why our stopbanks failed, and I will be asking our councillors to release all the findings.
The council has over 150km of stopbanks across the Heretaunga plains on the Tukituki, Waipawa, Tūtaekurī and Ngaruroro rivers and some tributaries.
Cyclone Gabrielle dumped unprecedented amounts of rain in the river catchments, and huge river flows resulted in catastrophic damage to about 5km of the stopbanks.
We now have 13 Rapid Repair teams working on all breaches and we have bunds in place except for Dartmoor and Springfield Road where wood debris needs to be removed first before repairs can be made at these two locations.
The government will undoubtedly be investigating the role of forestry slash in Hawke’s Bay’s flood damage. We cannot accept a continuation of an industry causing so much damage to so many if the findings point this way. While we need a thoughtful approach to solving the slash issues, we also need it to be dealt with immediately.
Most Hawke’s Bay residents have contributed wonderfully to those in need. I am sure we all hope that we can recover rapidly, and our region can continue to work together in our rebuild.
– Hinewai Ormsby is chairwoman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council