Salvation Army staff recently conducted a welfare visit to a social housing community in Gisborne which was hit hard by Cyclone Gabrielle.
As the cyclone descended on the city last week, power and communications were cut, while flooding left many people homeless. It was part of a pattern of destruction seen across Northland, Auckland, the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay, leaving 11 people dead and thousands struggling to recover.
The Salvation Army operates a 30-unit social housing village in Gisborne which is home to 30 people, many aged 70-years-plus.
‘During the cyclone residents of the village lost electricity, communications and running water, and it became difficult for them to buy food and other supplies as EFTPOS and ATMs were not working,’ says Greg Foster, national director of Salvation Army Social Housing.
‘We initially couldn’t contact our local property manager or residents, so had real concerns for their safety and wellbeing.
‘Our property manager, who lives about a 20 minute drive out of town, had difficulties getting to Gisborne due to road damage.’
Greg and another colleague visited residents of the village soon after the cyclone to carry out a welfare check and provide food, water and emergency funds.
‘Everyone was really pleased to see us and overwhelmed to get support, particularly the money, as it was still difficult to buy even the basics without cash,’ says Greg.
While the units and community hall themselves remained dry and safe, a nearby creek rose significantly, inundating a section of the village lawns and creeping close to some residents’ homes.
‘The residents all came together as a community during and after the cyclone, supporting each other, sharing food and cooking in the community hall which became an important focal point.’
Greg says staff will visit residents to provide ongoing pastoral care and support as the cyclone recovery continues.
Find out more about The Salvation Army’s emergency relief and recovery efforts and how you can donate: https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/news/we-are-there-communities