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Cyclone Gabrielle Leaves Devastating Effects on New Zealand: National State of Emergency Declared

New Zealand has declared a National State of Emergency for only the third time in its history, following the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, which has caused widespread flooding and enormous destruction across the North Island. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has described the cyclone as “one of the most significant weather events New Zealand has seen this century”.[0]

The government has declared a National State of Emergency to coordinate efforts across the regions most affected, allowing the national controller to apply further resources across the country and set priorities in support of a national level response. A NZ$11.5 million (£6 million) aid package was announced on Monday, and 9,000 people had been evacuated or displaced in the Hawke’s Bay region alone as of Wednesday morning, with no updated national figure.[1]

Two fatalities have been reported in the Hawke's Bay region; a woman was tragically killed when a landslide demolished her residence, and another individual was discovered deceased on the shoreline.[2] Cyclone Gabrielle has caused extensive damage to the power network on New Zealand's North Island, resulting in tens of thousands of homes and businesses being left without power.[3]

The New Zealand Defence Force, rescue services and private operators have rescued hundreds of people in Hawke's Bay, where floodwaters rose up to rooftops.[4] As the water levels rose above their houses, some were compelled to swim away to safety.[5] The defence force reported that, in certain instances, flood waters had reached the second floor of homes, requiring people to be rescued.[6]

Pictures have been released showing the New Zealand Defence Force and other emergency service personnel aiding residents of Hawke's Bay as they evacuate the area following the destruction caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.[6] Second Lieutenant Judge Gregory of the Army reported that crews had saved 50-60 people in a region of Hawke's Bay.[6] “The floodwater was waist high, but the Unimog tyres and massive clearance meant we were able to get into the elevated areas needed to reach the seasonal workers,” he said.[6]

Just a few weeks after experiencing record rainfall and flooding, the upper North Island, including Auckland, is now facing its second major weather event – a cyclone.[7] Cyclone Gabrielle is finally starting to depart from New Zealand, says WeatherWatch.co.nz, with some lingering wind and rain for the southern and eastern sides of the North Island today, and the north eastern side of the South Island expected.[8]

0. “State of Emergency declared in New Zealand after Cyclone Gabrielle” Euronews, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.euronews.com/2023/02/14/state-of-emergency-declared-in-new-zealand-after-cyclone-gabrielle

1. “Cyclone Gabrielle: Ministers give update on national response to severe weather” RNZ, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/484261/cyclone-gabrielle-ministers-give-update-on-national-response-to-severe-weather

2. “Cyclone Gabrielle live updates: Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wairoa, Piha, Muriwai ravaged by floods, slips; recovery and …” New Zealand Herald, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/cyclone-gabrielle-live-updates-hawkes-bay-gisborne-wairoa-muriwai-ravaged-by-floods-slips-recovery-and-rescues-in-auckland-northland-coromandel-bay-of-plenty/MB6JUQOGPZFS5HPKOOEKGV2UEY/

3. “New Zealand v England: Tourists have to deal with Cyclone Gabrielle – James Anderson” BBC, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/64616003

4. “Live Cyclone Gabrielle updates: Trail of destruction, thousands evacuated” RNZ, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/484244/live-cyclone-gabrielle-updates-trail-of-destruction-thousands-evacuated

5. “Cyclone Gabrielle: at least three dead in New Zealand storm as regions remain cut off” The Guardian, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/15/cyclone-gabrielle-new-zealand-storm-deaths-regions-cut-off

6. “Dramatic video of Hawke's Bay family's flight from rising floodwaters” Stuff, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/hawkes-bay/131232749/dramatic-video-of-hawkes-bay-familys-flight-from-rising-floodwaters

7. “Cyclone Gabrielle: how microgrids could help keep the power on during extreme weather events” The Conversation Indonesia, 14 Feb. 2023, https://theconversation.com/cyclone-gabrielle-how-microgrids-could-help-keep-the-power-on-during-extreme-weather-events-199665

8. “Watch: Cyclone Gabrielle finally departs NZ – The Bay's News First” SunLive, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/313137-watch-cyclone-gabrielle-finally-departs-nz.html