Cyclone Gabby

PHOTO: The Temporary Accommodation Service is expecting to house thousands of people.

People who’ve lost their homes in the floods might have to live in cabins, motorhomes or caravans – no idea is off the table.

It’s not hard to miss Te Karaka on State Highway 2. Possessions are piling up on the side of the road – people there have lost everything.

“Whānau are still tender at the moment, they’re still vulnerable. There’s a bit of healing that needs to happen,” said Frank Ngatoro, Waikohu Civil Defence coordinator.

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The floods devastated the community and destroyed homes. A man also died there during the severe weather.

“It was a few hard tough days, those were,” said Te Karaka resident Pat Roberts.

The area school has turned into an evacuation centre and it still is one, because dozens of people have nowhere else to go.

This includes Roberts, and the future of his family is playing heavily on his mind.

“Every day we’re thinking about that stuff. Since the floods, you just unfold each day as it is.”

Roberts is well aware a school is not a home, but like many, he doesn’t know what comes next.

“We need to know something is going to happen for us, and any help would be better than no help at all.”

Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson said it is “right at the top” of the Government’s list of welfare needs.


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Robertson was in Gisborne on Sunday to announce the package to support businesses – but there’s nothing yet on how the Government will help those displaced.

“That is the next step. People can only stay with their friends and relatives for so long, and so we’ve done the assessments and we’re working our way through that,” Robertson said.

The Temporary Accommodation Service in East Coast regions has yet to be activated. It’s a call that needs to come from the top.

“You’ll find that Cabinet will be making that decision very, very soon,” Robertson said.

When that happens, there will be thousands in need, but supply is a problem.

“You’ll be aware that in most regions of New Zealand there is a housing shortage, so we’re having to be very creative about that,” Robertson said.

“Nothing is off the table. We’re looking at options such as motorhomes, port-a-cabins, commercial supplies such as motels and hotels, and apartment buildings that have become available,” said Steve Watson, Temporary Accommodation Service incident controller.

Until then, it’s a waiting game for people like Roberts.

“It is what it is. Do your best to deal with it and move on,” he said.

For now though, the school is what they’ll have to make do with.