Support still needed post-cyclone

Published on 8th Oct, 2023
The effects of Cyclone Gabrielle are still being felt many months later. Photo: Annette Scullion/WelCom

WelCom October 2023

Michael Fitzsimons

In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, St Vincent de Paul in Taradale has been busy on the ground, helping the community and families in desperate need.

In mid-February Cyclone Gabrielle struck Hawke’s Bay causing huge devastation to the region. Many land-based businesses and households were severely affected and people have struggled to get back on their feet.

In the months since the cyclone hit, St Mary’s Conference in Taradale has been very proactive. Funds were provided from the St Vincent de Paul National Office for their work with cyclone-affected families.

An August report on the Conference’s activities notes: ‘Since March we have visited 59 families and gifted $98,500 to them. We have heard about people in need by word of mouth, neighbour to neighbour, through friends and families of those we meet.’

The Conference reports the issue now is not survival from flood waters and silt but people finding the resilience to pick up their lives and continue.

‘Stress is very high in the communities, especially among the men. Their whole meaning and purpose for living has been wiped away. They have been busy with orchard and farm work all their lives and now there is nothing but debt, debris, loss – their lovely homes gone, vintage cars, some restored lovingly over the years, all gone and many of these people in their seventies. How do you find hope?’

In their visits the Vinnies have brought compassion and a readiness to listen, as well as funds.

‘Our visits involve just sitting and listening, giving hugs which even these weather-hardened men relish – one man said I’ve learned how great hugs can be! We offer some funds for them to spend on themselves as they wish, and get some time away from the devastation. All those given funds send an email when received so we have a good paper trail for accountability.

They assure us it all helps.

‘They appreciate knowing they are not forgotten. Again and again they say it really helps to be listened to with compassion. They are very grateful to SVDP and the people of New Zealand for their generosity.

‘I’ve said this before and I continue to say it, we are so privileged to be in this position, it is so humbling.’

Meanwhile the Taradale Conference carries on with its regular work – supporting families, collecting food donations from church continues and delivering food to the Napier Family Centre.

The post Support still needed post-cyclone first appeared on Archdiocese of Wellington.

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