Don’t forget Cyclone Gabrielle

After attending a number of Cyclone Remembrance events on 14 February and talking to many locals and contractors, it’s heartbreakingly obvious the wounds are still raw. By Grant Radovanovich, Central Regional Manager, CCNZ.

Seeing more photos and videos and hearing more stories that I hadn’t heard before brings it all back for everyone. Like a couple being stuck in their ute for 13 hours between slips, having to walk seven hours bare foot across waist-high still-moving slash and slips to find a home with people then, after a shower and some food, trek a further 18 hours through gorse and blackberry to get home to their families. How long would it normally take them … 10 minutes tops by car!

There are also so many people still waiting on government buy-outs and  new homes, while roads and infrastructure are yet to be repaired. We still hear stories of locals paddling across rivers to get to work, of trucks adding hours to their travel to move stock around, of people still living in containers and caravans. While some progress is being made, it is not as fast as others of us around the country may think.

In the Hawke’s Bay, contractors have geared up expecting a glut of work, and now find themselves struggling to pay the bills while the cogs of Government slowly turn. Other contractors have made the move to the region in a “gold rush fever” only to find the work just isn’t happening yet.

All this places more pressure on the little work there is out there in the region at the moment. More positively, it was great to see a further $63 million of Government funding released last month for silt removal. This will most definitely help, but only touches the surface and doesn’t go towards the repairs of any of the network. And while the Transport Recovery East Coast Alliance is set up and will make a difference, the purpose of TREC is to restore the State Highways and not local roads.

It will be a long, hard road to recovery, so let’s not forget these regions hit by the cyclone early last year. Winter is coming fast to put even more pressure on an already fragile networks of the damaged regions.

If you know of a mate or company living and working in these regions, then pick up the phone, give them a call and just ask “how are you doing?”. It might just be the call they need before things tip over for them. Trust me, you will lift their spirits made and remind them – the rest of us haven’t forgotten.


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