The Auckland marine community has joined efforts to support victims of Cyclone Gabrielle, collecting truckloads of essentials in only a few days that will be distributed in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.
Eleven people have died and an estimated 1100 are still unaccounted for after the cyclone – one of the most devastating in New Zealand’s history - battered the upper and eastern North Island last week.
Thousands have been displaced and the national state of emergency has been extended into next week, with the Government on Monday announcing a $50 million interim relief package for affected regions and $250 million to rebuild roads.
The clean-up continues for communities in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, with some still without power and communications due to flooding more than a week since the storm hit.
Images of the devastation and a message from a sailing mate in Napier prompted Aucklanders Ian Darby and Nick Crabtree to coordinate support efforts in the local marine community.
“It was only once we finally managed to get in touch with Phil Jameson, a guy we know well from sailing who is also an ambulance officer down there, that we released just how big the need is,” Darby said.
“They desperately need things like men’s and women’s clothing, hoodies, socks, towels, toiletries, shoes, gumboots, rain jackets and toys. We decided the fastest way to help was to create a Facebook group and set up a few collection points around the city where people could drop off these items.”
The group’s membership has since ballooned to over 100 – and donations have been streaming in.
“We’ve been doing drop-offs at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the plan is to take a truck down to Napier on Thursday, where Phil will collect it and assist with the distribution to the civil defence teams in Hawke’s Bay,” Darby said.
“The response has been amazing. Initially, it was mainly a group from the Auckland marine community but many non-sailors and people from outside the city got in touch. Everyone is just desperate to help where they can.”
The RNZYS received several more loads of donations on Wednesday morning, including a load from Yachting New Zealand staff and sailors.
Kiwis and businesses have already donated millions to relief efforts through the New Zealand Red Cross and other initiatives.
Speaking after a cash donation to the Red Cross NZ Disaster Fund on behalf of Yachting New Zealand, chief executive David Abercrombie said his thoughts were with those affected by the cyclone.
“The devastation inflicted has been heart-breaking to see and, while we have been fortunate that our clubs have suffered relatively minor damage to their buildings and equipment, many members of our sailing and boating family have had their lives turned upside down.”
Abercrombie said Yachting NZ will continue to encourage donations to the Red Cross, including at this weekend’s Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at Torbay Sailing Club.
“It’s been encouraging to see our communities again come together to support each other but the effects of this event will be felt for a long time.”
To donate to the Red Cross NZ Disaster Fund click here.
For more information on how to contribute essential items, click here.