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Distress amongst the debris

Although the number of evacuations and condemned buildings in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle is still unknown, one certainty is that people are hurting, and badly.

Welfare checks conducted by Wairarapa police have revealed widespread distress, particularly in communities still reeling from last month’s Cyclone Hale.

Wairarapa Acting Senior Sergeant for Prevention Gill Flower said officers had been door-knocking in Tinui and Castlepoint communities in recent days.

While police had not received reports of unaccounted people, there had been at least half a dozen calls for specific welfare checks on family and friends in isolated areas.

“It’s clear that they are going through hell,” Flower said.

Wairarapa Emergency Operations Controller Steve May said while the emergency response might be shifting into the next phase of recovery, hard data was still a few days away.

“The priority in the past couple of days was getting to those communities that were cut off and without telecommunications. Some people have been evacuated from cut-off communities due to access to medication, and some medications have been flown in.

“Now that access has been established, we can do door knocks and assess needs.”

May said it was fortunate no rain is forecast in the coming days but stopped short of saying Wairarapa has been lucky.

“People whose homes have been flooded, and in the face of this trauma, would not like me to say that.”

He confirmed he had not received reports of missing people, and the situation felt more comfortable now that telecommunications had been restored across the wider Masterton district.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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