PHOTO: Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia
Some residents from Auckland’s Muriwai, displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle, have been staying at a makeshift caravan park for the past two weeks, while many more are staying with local families who have opened up their homes.
Muriwai was the one of the hardest hit communities in Auckland, where two firefighters died after a slip and more than 200 homes were red or yellow-stickered.
More than half of the Auckland homes marked unliveable following the cyclone were in Muriwai.
Dozens of campervans with tent extensions are parked at the Muriwai beach campground, where displaced families have found refuge thanks to the campground owners who have offered the space for free in the meantime.
Many families were evacuated at short notice and had only a brief window of time to return to their homes to pick up essentials, a week after the cyclone.
Motutara Road resident Jay Brown, his partner and their teenage daughter have been living in a campervan since their home was red-stickered.
The house was undamaged but has been deemed unsafe to live in due to its proximity to a slip.
Brown said there had been little information from officials on how much longer they would be in limbo for.
“So what are people in our situation waiting for? Are we waiting for the cliff face to settle down? Are they still finding there’s movement? And if that is the case, it would be great if they just let us know,” he said.
When a new downpour hit on 24 February, the campground was flooded and a mattress in their extended tent was floating on water.
Brown said he knew this was not a long-term solution, and he was worried about eventually having to rent a place as well as pay a mortgage for a house they could not return to.
He has lived in Muriwai for more than 20 years and hoped to continue living there if the weather risks could be managed in the future.
“We know we’ve got a risk because of what happened, what kind of controls can we develop to lower the risk,” Brown said.
“And that might be controls like, is there anything we can do to monitor the hillside? Can we put probes into the ground that’s measuring moisture, that’s monitoring movement?”
Others have been frustrated at the lack of support with temporary accommodation.
Siegfried Walczak, 88, and his wife were evacuated from their home of 50 years the morning after the cyclone brought down a slip nearby.
They have been staying with locals, and are still waiting for a call from Temporary Accommodation Services (TAS) for a longer term solution.
Walczak said a staff member from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had referred him to TAS, but the process was not well coordinated.
“We can’t sit all day at home and wait for them to ring us up you see, they should have somebody in charge, and there is nobody in charge so really, just push it on to somebody else,” he said.
TAS national manager Al Bruce said more than 800 households in Auckland had registered for help, and about 100 who registered more than five days ago were yet to be contacted.
Bruce said they were aware of the severe impact on Muriwai and the need for medium to long-term accommodation.
Meanwhile, others are trying to stay optimistic.
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