Destroyed houses, isolated towns and thousands of evacuees. This is the trail of destruction left behind in Wairoa, New Zealand, after the passage of Cyclone Gabrielle. A weather station in the Hawke’s Bay region recorded three times more rain on Monday night than it usually falls in the entire month of February, according to authorities.
The country’s Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, announced the balance of damage at a press conference, stating that the number of fatalities could increase: “Unfortunately, the police confirm that the number of fatalities caused by the cyclone is rising currently at 5. There are still people for whom the police have great concern and we have to be prepared for the possibility of more fatalities.”
So far, the fatalities have occurred near Hawke’s Bay, on the North Island. It is known that two have died due to landslides and another two due to drowning.
Police said at least 1,442 people had been declared untraceable on the North Island as of Wednesday afternoon and around 10,000 people had been forced to leave their homes.
Around 160,000 North Island homes were without power on Wednesday, up from 225,000 on Tuesday, according to the government.
“I want to go see if my baby is okay in the cemetery, I hope the water hasn’t washed her away,” confesses a flood evacuee.
Although Cyclone Gabrielle has passed, meteorologists are forecasting new storms on the hardest-hit North Island, where it has been raining for weeks.