Police continue to pour staff and resources into the Eastern District to assist local staff responding to Cyclone Gabrielle.
In addition to approximately 100 extra staff, Police have deployed the Police Air Support Unit (known as Eagle helicopter) along with 12 4×4 utes and 10 other Police vehicles.
Police SAR teams are working to determine which homes have not yet been assessed and who is still cut off in remote areas of the East Coast. Police staff are also assisting health teams to conduct welfare checks on people with acute needs.
Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster has been in Eastern District today connecting with Police staff who have been responding with very little rest since the earliest hours of the Cyclone Gabrielle.
Commissioner Coster says “Many of our staff have also been deeply affected by the devastation, and I’m incredibly proud that they continue to work hard to help the community many of whom have suffered their own significant losses.
“Our staff are human, and have families and friends who are affected in natural disasters like these. Some of our people will have their own homes damaged in floodwaters, and come to work to help others in that time.
“This has been an utterly devastating event for these communities and our hearts go out to all those who have been affected.”
Police have set up a specialist team to reconcile reports of uncontactable people in Cyclone Gabrielle with those who have reported themselves safe. This includes cross referencing with people reported safe through evacuation centres, and in person reports to Police stations.
There have been 80 Police staff members working on this today, and this number will extend to 100 in the next few days.
The priority for Police is to filter out duplicate reports made of uncontactable people, reconcile those reports with those who have reported themselves as safe, and prioritise this information for District staff on the ground.
This will help Police staff and other agencies identify those most in need of a welfare check.
Communications in areas most affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are slowly coming back on, and we are urging people who have not yet reported themselves as safe to do so as soon as possible via the Registering I’m Alive online form, here https://forms.police.govt.nz/im-alive
Anyone who has not yet been able to contact someone following the cyclone is also encouraged to make a Person Inquired For report, here https://forms.police.govt.nz/person-inquired-for
People who have now been in touch with someone previously reported uncontactable are now urged to update their report via the same link, so we can prioritise those who need the most urgent checks.
As of 2pm today, there have been 4549 reports of uncontactable people registered and 872 reports from people registering that they are safe. Police continue to have serious concerns for several people.
Eight people have been confirmed dead following Cyclone Gabrielle. This includes two people confirmed dead today, in Waiohiki and Puketapu.
As with any significant event of this nature, it is standard practice for emergency and responding services to give consideration to how best to deal with casualties or fatalities. Temporary facilities have been set up at the port in Napier and Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings.
The facilities have been established as a precaution to ensure that any fatalities can be managed with care and respect, and in accordance with Coronial processes. They are held there before being taken to a mortuary.