New Zealand has requested assistance from Australia as it works to clean up and recover from the destruction caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. On Wednesday night, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake occurred near the nation’s capital, Wellington, but no tsunami warning was issued since the quake was “too deep to perturb seafloor,” according to GeoNet. Elizabeth Peak, the deputy head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Office, said emergency management teams had been working together to scope possible support. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealand is also accepting offers of international aid and described the event as “significant” and “traumatic” for those affected.
Current major issues include limited communications in some towns due to downed power and telecommunication infrastructure, as well as limited water supply. The Prime Minister said authorities are trying to get as much connectivity as possible with Starlink to enable call and text messages. He also said the country needs to look at the overall resilience of its infrastructure with a greater sense of urgency than ever before.
Napier City Council urged residents against washing down their driveways, as it would block pipes and cause further flooding. They also said it is a tragic waste of water, as they are working hard to ensure water supply for health and safety. A convoy of trucks is delivering fresh drinking water to areas in need like Gisborne each day.
Five deaths have been confirmed from Cyclone Gabrielle, but the number is expected to rise as flood water begins to recede, with 1,400 people missing. Among the five were a volunteer firefighter, Dave van Zwanenberg, and one child. Two firefighters had been investigating a flooded property, then became trapped inside following a landslide. The other firefighter remains in the hospital.
Transpower, the state-owned company responsible for electricity infrastructure and market systems, said 40,800 homes remain without power in Hawke’s Bay, of which 31,700 are in Napier. They warned that the community should be prepared to be without power for “days to weeks, rather than hours.” The company is focusing on creating a bypass for its powerline to connect to another substation 10 kilometers away in Whakatu.