One of the slips on the Brynderwyns.
It is hard to put into words the emotions that are being felt across our district right now.
For some, relief that Cyclone Gabrielle has moved away. For some, a sense of despair at the amount of work still to be done. For others, just pure exhaustion.
To all the contractors – Northpower, Civil Defence and Northland Regional Council, Kaipara, Far North and Whangārei District Council staff working behind the scenes through the long days and nights of Cyclone Gabrielle’s visit, I thank you.
You went above and beyond. You did not clock in and out. You lived and breathed the welfare of our people. I hope soon you can take time to rest and regroup, to look at what you have achieved and to give yourselves due praise. You deserve it!
To all the community helpers and volunteers – and we know there were many – we thank you.
Your offers of hot showers and cups of tea to those without power were invaluable. You came out with your spades and brooms, you offered your help with fallen trees and you checked on neighbours and friends. Trampolines, roofing iron, shed materials and household debris were collected and returned or disposed of.
Whether you picked up a chainsaw or picked up a phone, we thank you. Your actions strengthen our community.
I know there is still a long way to go before we can get back to normal (if ‘normal’ even has meaning these days), but we are thankful that all our people have been accounted for, and we send our aroha now to those in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.
Our focus will soon turn to reviewing our response efforts and building back better. That means we need to look at our infrastructure and measure its efficacy against future weather events.
How has our stormwater and wastewater system coped? Where were the weak points? What can we do to mitigate damage in the future? Likewise with our power supplies, our cellphone towers/connectivity and, of course, our roading.
We need to make smart decisions backed by good data from scientists, engineers and infrastructure planners to ensure any infrastructure we put in place from now on will be able to handle what nature has in store.
Aligning this good data with the five key projects from our Northland Mayoral Forum was easy. We already had Connecting Northland as number one on the list, and number four was upgrading existing infrastructure; like power, communications and access.
It is now time to have central Government come in behind us and back the councils’ decisions going forward by providing funding and support where needed.
Whangārei and Northland, we have a bright future as a district and region, and together we can grow the economy, faster and better than ever.