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One year on: Cyclone Gabrielle’s effect on housing


13 Feb 2024
Cyclone Gabrielle damage in Napier 1

This week marks one year since thousands of families and homes were severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle in Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. With properties badly damaged from the wild winds and floods, Habitat knew at the time that families would need long-term support from community organisations in affected areas.

While Habitat for Humanity is not a first responder in times of disaster, it understands how important it is to rebuild homes after an event like Cyclone Gabrielle and that this takes time. In the past year, it has engaged with local organisations to assess how it can best provide support to families in housing need with the funds it has raised.

One year on, Habitat has formed a partnership with a local community trust to deliver repairs for families and individuals they are in contact with whose homes were severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. This partnership will see ten families assisted to recover from the cyclone damage.

As Habitat knows from its previous disaster response work in New Zealand and the Pacific, recovering from cyclones and other disasters effectively cannot be a short-term plan and requires partnerships. Habitat’s mission is to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope, and this is what it is doing in Hawke’s Bay.

John and Janette’s* tiny home in Esk Valley was inundated with flooding and mud that reached almost-chest high and rendered their home unlivable until it can be restored. In the near future, new kitchen and bathroom materials will be installed to finally welcome them back into a functional home.

Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon. While some residents are still able to live in their homes, day-to-day life remains affected with walls torn down and repairs pending. Wilson* and his two sons were living in their two-story Napier home when 1.6 metres of flood water ravaged their first floor. Because of this, they continue to live in the home with bare framing downstairs and an unusable laundry room. With new laundry room materials set to arrive in the coming weeks, Wilson and his family are on their way to filling the gaps that Cyclone Gabrielle left in their home and their lives.

Recovering from such an extraordinary event was never going to be easy, but thanks to our generous supporters, improving access to decent housing for Kiwis post-cyclone is underway.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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