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HBRC's priority is immediate response to the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle

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Hawke’s Bay Regional Council's Interim Chief Executive Pieri Munro says the region is experiencing the greatest natural disaster in the region’s history and the Council’s immediate and urgent priority is to focus on the response.

Mr Munro says that he understands the community’s frustrations and that they want answers about what has occurred – particularly in Esk Valley.

“There will be a time to review decisions made before and after the initial states of emergency in coming weeks. Currently our staff are very focused on rebuilding vital flood protection infrastructure, restoring networks, and working with the emergency response co-ordinated by Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management.”

“What I can say is that the intensity of Cyclone Gabrielle greatly exceeded our expectations and forecasts based on the data we had on hand on the day before the cyclone hit.”

Seven of the 10 sites monitoring river flows went offline from the day the cyclone hit (Tuesday last week) after the failure of a repeater station relaying rainfall data. 

“We notified people in the lower reaches of the valley through phone, and many of them self-evacuated as a result.”

.“At the time, we thought this was a reasonable decision based on the data that we had.”

“We are devastated that this has happened to our community and environment, with many of our staff  personally impacted, and we share in the community’s grief.”

Mr Munro says once the Council is out of response mode, it will be in a better position to respond to other issues.

“We know that we could get more rain, so we need to work with pace to restore the resilience of our flood protection systems.”

27 February 2023

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