Cyclone Gabrielle, which has devastated parts of New Zealand’s North Island, has been called the worst meteorological disaster in the country “in a generation” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
New Zealand’s government under Chris Hipkins has declared a state of emergency, only the third such declaration in the country’s history.
About 1.5 million out of the country’s total population of 5 million are impacted.
When rivers overflowed their banks, they displaced a lot of people and compelled some to swim to safety.
Some people have been brought down from the rooftops.
There are currently about a quarter of a million individuals in the dark. Houses have been destroyed by falling trees, and landslides have swept away others and obstructed roadways.
Hawke’s Bay, the Coromandel, and Northland are some of the worst-affected coastal communities on the North Island.
A river’s overflow has severed all lines of communication to one town in the area.
Hawke’s Bay’s civil defense officials stated they were overwhelmed by the extent of the devastation. Assistance from both Australia and the United Kingdom has been promised.
A firefighter was buried in a landslide in Muriwai, west of Auckland, and has not been seen or heard from since. According to rescue workers, a second firefighter involved in the incident was gravely hurt.
Marcelle Smith told the BBC that she and her two young children had to flee inland on Monday night from their cliff-side home in Parua Bay on the east coast of the North Island.
Her protective spouse stayed behind to put safeguards in place. There were still battles to be fought with the unpredictable weather on Tuesday, and some of the embankments that had been erected had already been swept away.
“We’re doing everything in our power to safeguard our labor of love. For the time being, man must contend with the elements alone “The BBC, she said.
Some Hawke’s Bay residents were reportedly forced to swim out of their bedrooms through broken windows when seas swamped their homes, as reported by local media. A lack of electricity could leave residents in the dark for weeks, officials have warned.
Pictures taken from above-flooded areas showed people huddled on roofs, desperately hoping for help.
Trees have been ripped out of the ground, streetlights and utility poles have been twisted, and entire neighborhoods have been submerged in water.
Pictures of a dramatic rescue operation were released by the New Zealand Defense Force, showing officials retrieving a trapped sailor whose yacht had been blown out to sea when its anchor line snapped in high winds.
“The level and the devastation that we are seeing has not been experienced in a generation,” Mr. Hipkins said on Tuesday.
“As the cyclone develops further, we are still piecing together a picture of its effects. Yet, the extent and magnitude of the effect are known.”
For the relief of those impacted by the disaster, he has contributed NZ$11.5m (£6m; US$7.3m).
On Tuesday morning, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty declared a national state of emergency due to the “extraordinary” storm.
As a result of the emergency decree, the government will be able to respond to the tragedy more efficiently. It has been implemented in Northland, Auckland, Tairawhiti, Tararua, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay.
Prior to the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, these were the only two times New Zealand had proclaimed a national state of emergency.
It has been officially declared that climate change is to blame for the severity of the calamity.
With global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees, “the severity of it, of course, [is] made worse,” as climate change minister James Shaw put it.
“Let’s quit finding reasons not to take action. When the beach is flooded, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. Time is of the essence and we must move quickly.”
Two weeks after catastrophic downpours and flooding in the same region, which claimed the lives of four people, Cyclone Gabrielle struck New Zealand.
The MetService reports that the weather will improve over the next few days, thus the heavy rain warnings have been lifted in some areas. However, it did issue a warning that additional harm could be caused by the wind.