Cyclone Gabrielle Causes a National Emergency

A national state of emergency has been declared after the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle which hit New Zealand last week. During the storm emergency services were overwhelmed and communications were cut off as cell phone towers were damaged. It wasn’t until some time after the storm that we were able to learn about the terrible damage around the country, and a week later, news is still coming through. Some 10,000 people are displaced. On Friday, some 62,000 homes were still without electricity. Eleven people have died.

Cyclone Gabrielle is estimated to have affected at least a third of New Zealand’s population of five million.

The worst damage has been on the far north and east coast of the North Island – areas like Hawke’s Bay, Tairawhiti (Gisborne), Coromandel and Northland. Some places that you might hear about a lot are the Esk Valley and Wairoa in the Hawkes Bay, which were buried in mud after their rivers flooded, and Muriwai, a hilly area in Auckland that had some deadly landslides.

New Zealand announced a national state of emergency on Tuesday the 14th of February. The country has only declared a national state of emergency on two other occasions – the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.


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