Cyclone Gabrielle Ravages New Zealand with Evacuations, Power Outages, and Disruptions
As Cyclone Gabrielle inches closer to the east coast of New Zealand, residents in Auckland and surrounding areas are bracing for heavy rain, flooding, and gale-force winds. Homes have been evacuated and power has been cut for over 46,000 homes, causing widespread disruptions.
"Unfortunately, the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle are expected to get worse before they get better," warns Rachel Kelleher, Deputy Controller of Auckland Emergency Management. Schools and local government facilities across Auckland and the upper North Island have been closed and people are being advised not to travel if possible.
Cyclone Gabrielle is the second significant weather event to hit the country in a matter of weeks. Last month, record rainfall caused flooding and claimed four lives in Auckland and surrounding areas. In response, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced a NZ$11.5 million ($7.25 million) aid package to support community groups and those affected by the floods.
States of emergency have been declared in Auckland and at least six other regions, and further evacuations have been ordered at beachside communities ahead of an expected storm surge. Cell service is patchy, trees have fallen, and roofs have been lifted off in some areas.
Air New Zealand has cancelled 509 flights and public transport has been disrupted, with ferries, buses, and trains either suspended or operating on a reduced schedule. Police are also searching for a person onboard a boat near Great Barrier Island who was reported to be in distress.
As the storm continues to wreak havoc, Metservice meteorologist Georgina Griffiths warns, "Auckland and Great Barrier Island could see heavy rain and winds, with parts of Auckland expected to experience gales overnight." With the city already saturated, localised land slides and surface flooding are expected. Stay safe, New Zealand.