A review into the Civil Defence response to Cyclone Gabrielle has so far gathered close to 1000 community submissions.

The independent review led by former police commissioner Mike Bush is investigating how well-prepared officials were prior to the cyclone, as well as the agency’s immediate emergency response.

People from Wairoa in the north of Hawke’s Bay to Pōrangahau in the south have had their say on how Civil Defence managed Cyclone Gabrielle, Bush said.

The review is considering Civil Defence’s warning announcements, how quickly teams and operations centres were stood up, communication with communities and within Civil Defence, timeliness of decisions, and the role of iwi, hapū and mana whenua.

Hawke’s Bay suffered the biggest loss of lives in the cyclone. Rivers burst their banks, and sodden land gave way, sweeping eight people to their deaths.

It also caused breached stopbanks in 30 places, most on the Tūtaekurī and Ngaruroro rivers between Napier and Hastings, and also the Waipawa and Wairoa rivers.

The cyclone had a devastating impact on farmers and growers throughout the region, with millions needing to be spent on the removal of silt from their land.

In Wairoa, a wall of water swamped the north end of town, and it was then topped off with tonnes of silt. The northern Hawke’s Bay town was cut off in most directions for weeks.

More than 100 homes were condemned, along with several businesses and Takitimu Marae, which holds special significance for Ngāti Kahungunu.

As part of the review, a series of community focus groups has been held and residents were asked to share their experiences in an online survey, which opened in November and closes on January 15.

Community and mana whenua feedback had formed an important part of the review process, Bush said.

The report is due by the end of March, and would be designed to help improve emergency management in the region.

rnz.co.nz

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