Neighbourly support during Cyclone Gabrielle
15 August 2023
Looking out for each other. That was the natural reaction to the challenges faced during Cyclone Gabrielle from residents in a group of five Kāinga Ora homes in Green Meadows, Napier.
I am the youngest of the residents here says a spritely Darienne. “After the cyclone hit, I needed to be sure everyone was okay. Most of us have lived here for at least 10 years so we all know each other.”
“We had no electricity for six days and no phone or internet contact for four days. That was frightening for some of us. Not being able to contact friends and family for support meant we had to rely on each other.”
“My sister and her husband had to be evacuated and stayed three nights with me. My son and his young family were also evacuated and stayed a night with me. Together we tried to support my neighbours.”
“It was just little things - making cups of tea on the gas BBQ, having a chat or charging someone’s phone while I was driving. After six days all the food in our fridges and freezers had gone off. They all needed to be cleaned out and the food disposed of. With the welfare hub set up at St Joseph’s Māori Girls College just across the road I could get food for neighbours who weren’t getting their meals on wheels delivered at that time.“
Darienne’s neighbour Helen was grateful to have neighbours calling in “The floods isolated my daughter and she couldn’t get to me. I felt quite fed up with no power and no phone. I just listened to the radio. My leg was injured before the cyclone. Darienne asked the nurses based at the welfare hub to come over and check on it. That was timely as my leg wasn’t doing too well and needed some attention from the doctor.”
Lack of contact with elderly family members was a worry for many after the cyclone. The Kāinga Ora contact centre received a call from a son concerned about his mother. He couldn’t contact her and was very worried. He thought she may have gone to stay with a close friend who lived in one of the five homes.
We tried to check on as many of our vulnerable customers as possible in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, says Housing Support Team Leader Rochelle. “When I received the call about the missing mother, I did a welfare check on all our customers in these five homes. Mum was found safe and sound. That’s when I saw how all the residents had come together as a community to support each other. It was really heart-warming to see them making the best of what was a very challenging time.”
Housing support manager Casey continued to keep an eye on the tight five, helping some apply for Civil Defence payments to cover their losses and making sure wellbeing support was available for those that needed it.
Page updated: 15 August 2023