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Reflecting on Cyclone Gabrielle a year on
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'We experienced different levels of crisis': Reflecting on Cyclone Gabrielle disaster a year on

"How bad was this Cyclone ?  That turned out to be the biggest struggle."

I drove to work on Feb 14th 2023, not aware of the life-threatening situation that was unfolding in many parts of The Bay.

It was raining, heavily. I had to drive around a massive tree that had fallen across the road by the EIT and I also noticed another one had fallen into one of the EIT buildings.

As I drove across the Redclyffe Bridge, I noticed it felt strange and a bit bumpy, but as it was dark, didn’t notice the level of water or the debris building up against it.

When we arrived at our building here in Hastings, we immediately tried to get some information about what was going on. How bad was this Cyclone Gabrielle?  That turned out to be the biggest struggle over the next few hours and in fact the next few days.

We spent the rest of the morning in a state of shock really, as we couldn’t quite believe the stories we were hearing, the information we had to share, the videos of bridges and homes collapsing and the devastation of our beautiful home, Hawke’s Bay.

'We experienced different levels of crisis': Reflecting on Cyclone Gabrielle disaster a year on

We quickly realised we were in for the long haul, when asked “You need a break, when would you like someone to take over” we said, “We’re not going anywhere” and continued to broadcast all day and into the night.

It personally became extremely difficult for me when I got the news that my 86-year-old father had to be evacuated from his home in Links Road and then followed by the news from my panicked wife, on a shocking cell phone connection, that our own home had water building up outside and was about to be flooded.

Without bridges to return home to my family, I stayed on the Hastings side of the Tutikuri River for 4 days. I still remember the feeling of seeing my property for the first time, there were tears. But I was thankful I was one of the lucky ones, who’s families were safe.

For me, I don’t believe that there’s been a more significant time in my 30+ year career when local radio and the connection to local communities was so important. We quickly realised we were not only a lifeline for critical information, but a voice of comfort, friendship and togetherness.

'We experienced different levels of crisis': Reflecting on Cyclone Gabrielle disaster a year on

Since that day, here at The Breeze, we’ve focused on helping and supporting all the amazing organisations to rebuild our beautiful part of the world, geographically and mentally.

I’ve always said, we all experienced different levels of crisis that day and however you feel about that is OK. For example, you don’t have to feel guilt for getting off lightly!

For some, the lucky ones, the worst was a power cut and the recycling not being collected….for others, our houses and possessions got affected… and for others they lost loved ones, pets, homes, possessions, livelihoods… and sadly for some, the pressure was just too much to bear in the days and months after the event.

I just want to take this moment to say, if you’re personally affected by the cyclone and you’re still having days where it feels like you aren’t making headway, your re-build isn’t happening fast enough or you just feel overwhelmed with what happened– that’s all OK, it’s still one day at a time, and you’re not alone, I’m still putting my home back together also, and I understand what a truly complex situation we’re in, but it WILL happen. I’m with you too, and never feel bad for feeling what you’re feeling and always reach out.

By Martin Good, The Breeze Hawke's Bay