Cyclone Gabrielle: New Zealand declares state of emergency
Tens of thousands of homes are without electricity, people are being evacuated and roads are closed in northern regions Tuesday as the cyclone leaves a trail of destruction.
New Zealand has declared a national state of emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle sweeps across the nation’s North Island, causing floods, landslips and power outages.
Tens of thousands of homes are without electricity, people are being evacuated and roads are closed in northern regions Tuesday as the cyclone leaves a trail of destruction. Auckland Airport said 45,000 travelers have been disrupted due to hundreds of flight cancelations.
Gabrielle is hitting two weeks after Auckland, home to 1.6 million people, was smashed by a storm that caused extensive damage from widespread flooding and landslides. Four people died. The national state of emergency is only the third in New Zealand’s history following the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and the Covid-19 outbreak.
Read more | New Zealand cancels flights as deluge from cyclone looms
It will allow coordination of the emergency response at a national level, ensuring resources can get promptly to where they are needed, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty told a news conference in Wellington.
“This is an unprecedented weather event that is having major impacts across much of the North Island,” he said. “This is a significant disaster with a real threat to the lives of New Zealanders.”
The declaration comes as emergency services search for a firefighter missing after being caught in a sudden landslide at Muriwai on Auckland’s west coast after gales and rain buffeted the region. More than 265 millimeters (10 inches) of rain was recorded there in a 12-hour period.
The firefighter was one of two trapped at Muriwai after the deluge caused multiple slips, damaged homes and sparked evacuations. The other firefighter was rescued with critical injuries.
A river north of Auckland burst its banks and required evacuations while wind threatened to topple a tower in Auckland city, also forcing local residents to leave their homes.
Auckland is now facing some respite as Gabrielle passes. Auckland Airport is expected to reopen Tuesday and Air New Zealand was scheduled to resume international and domestic flights through its busiest hub. Still, a high wind warning remains in place.
The storm system is moving toward New Zealand’s east coast, toppling trees and bringing down power lines. Rivers in the eastern regions of Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay are rising and the defense force is mobilizing trucks and personnel to assist with evacuations. Power outages have disrupted cellular communications, leaving several regions impossible to contact.
“We are through the worst of the storm itself, but we know that we are all facing extensive flooding, slips, damaged roads and infrastructure,” McAnulty said. “We still want people to be vigilant and please follow advice.”