As Cyclone Gabrielle barrels towards the North Island, households are being warned to prepare early.
With the exact path of the storm system still unclear and Wairarapa potentially in the firing line, experts agree taking early steps to mitigate damage is key.
Wairarapa MP and Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said with the cyclone likely to impact from tomorrow to Tuesday, there was time to plan, and preparations were well underway.
“The Government is taking this very seriously and is ready to respond to keep people safe and support impacted communities,” he said.
“We’re using the next few days to get ready. With clear weather forecast today, it’s a good time to make sure you and your family are prepared.”
“The changing nature of the cyclone means everyone in Northern, Central, and the Eastern North Island should be on alert.”
As the cyclone approaches, there will be more information and advice, with constant updates as the event unfolds.
“We have been given assurances that Civil Defence and other agencies will regularly update all of their channels, including social media. I also encourage people to stay up-to-date with media reports and make sure you have a battery-powered radio in case of power outages,” McAnulty said.
As well as following advice to stock at least three days’ worth of supplies – such as medication, water and food [including pet food] – there are other basic precautions people can take.
Local builder and past president of Wairarapa Master Builders Association Paul Southey agrees now is the time to get ready.
“We need to be prepared. A one-in-a-100 or one-in-200-year rain event in Wairarapa would cause a lot of damage.
“There are areas in Wairarapa very vulnerable to flooding issues. We need to learn from other regions,” he said.
“A lot of properties have creeks running through them. In case of a flooding event, have you got your downpipes and soak pits clear?”
Southey said garden vegetation could stop water flowing through properties and should be trimmed.
“Water needs to keep flowing. Don’t let vegetation get overgrown. You don’t want a lot of rain to cause vegetation to fall and block roads or other areas where water flows. Trees can also fall onto homes and power lines.”
He said it was important to check your insurance policies and make sure they are adequate.
On a similar note, Steve Hurley – a Masterton-based broker at Northco Insurance with more than 44 years in the business – pointed out that, despite recent flooding in Auckland demonstrating that natural events can’t be dodged, up-to-date insurance policies do help you recover afterwards.
“Everyone should review their insurance annually,” he said.
“You should make sure everything that should be insured is insured and to the right value. After a widespread disaster, you will be competing in a busy trade market.”