Cyclone Gabrielle: Northland tries to clean up as weather still rages

Mike Procter.

Mike Procter.
Photo: Soumya Bhamidipati / RNZ

Cyclone Gabrielle may have bypassed most of Northland, but its outer reaches are still leaving a wake of destruction.

The region is still feeling the force of the ex-tropical cyclone, with multiple evacuations in Dargaville and Whangārei on Tuesday, despite the easing weather.

Between the two, the small farming district of Tangiteroria is drowning in murky floodwaters, which stretch across hundreds of acres of land.

Dion Blaxland’s home is almost surrounded. His wife and children evacuated on Sunday, but he stayed to secure their home and animals as best he could.

“Because your home’s your home,” he said. “It’s your livelihood, that’s where you live, and your kids live, so yeah you come back to keep an eye on things.

“If it’d actually hit the house, yeah, I would’ve just jumped in the truck and gone, because I can’t do anything else.”

Most of his neighbours would be doing the same, Blaxland said. He has been without electricity since Sunday. Although inconvenient, he said it was not the end of the world.

“I’m on tank water, so my pump won’t go because I’ve got no power,” he said.

“I’ve got a digger bucket out there, fresh water’s falling in from the sky, so I’ll just go out and top up the water on that. If I need to boil it, I’ll boil it on the hob.”

Flooding in Tangiteroria.

Flooding in Tangiteroria.
Photo: Soumya Bhamidipati / RNZ

While it seems the worst may have passed for Whangārei residents, for some the bad weather is still not over.

On Whareora Road, Mike Procter’s place needs a huge clean-up after a landslip from higher ground across the road sent a slew of mud through the property, about 8pm on Monday.

“It was not there and then it was there… it’s like someone just turned on the tap, it just rushed through,” he said.

“We were actually hunkered down, we were just watching a movie, thinking things were going to be fine.

“We’re really fortunate it didn’t come into the house – it came really close, it came right up to the doorstep.”

With Civil Defence declaring the house still safe, the family is looking forward to moving back in.

“I’d much rather this than flood water coming into the house, because that’s carpets up, and gib board,” he said.

“It was 12 months last time we had a flood through this valley, for a lot of these houses, to get people, residents back into their houses, so it’s good … strangely, it’s a silver lining. We’re happy.”

Mike Procter's place.

Mike Procter’s place.
Photo: Soumya Bhamidipati / RNZ

Meanwhile, homes on nearby Hakawai Lane were evacuated because of the risks of further slips.

With many homes still uninhabitable, thousands of power outages and a ray of sunshine yet to peek through the grey, Northland residents are ready to say goodbye to Gabrielle.

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