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Cyclone Gabrielle timeline of readiness and response

Friday 2 June, 2023

An independent third-party commissioned report highlights Tairāwhiti Civil Defence’s critical timeline as the organisation prepared, responded and flew into action when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the region.

Gabrielle came hard on the back of two adverse weather events, including Cyclone Hale and was devastating to both Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay. The compilation of the event timeline, which runs from February 4 through to February 19, is a forensic-level dive into logs, records and data sources, presenting a clear run sheet of how the regional readiness phase is rolled out.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says it clearly shows everything that happened prior to the event.

“This timeline documents how Tairawhiti Civil Defence proactively worked with and alongside our communities to prepare for Cyclone Gabrielle,” she says.

Ben Green Tairāwhiti Emergency Management Group manager says whilst there is a general appreciation of the physical impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on the region, there is a lack of awareness of all the critical events and actions that took place within the regional Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC).

“The situation is dynamic with a myriad of situations that evolve, and time is a rare commodity,” says Mr Green. “This was a complex event on a large scale which is often difficult for affected groups and communities to comprehend on a regional, let alone national, level. This will give people a chance to put into perspective the scope and scale of the event.”

Mr Green says the report also highlighted the efforts of the emergency services, community groups and volunteers who were all ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help their people.

The timeline shows when the community were advised to evacuate, when Urban Search and Rescue staff were deployed, when people in the city needed to conserve water when the pipeline broke, and when various partner agencies undertook actions.

The report is available for the public to read.

To see the preparedness and response timeline, see our Road to recovery page.