Following the devastation left in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, members, family and friends of the Rotary Club of Greenmeadows, NZ, have clocked up in excess of 422 hours volunteering in various ways to support their community and each other.
Three members had water through their homes, outbuildings and land, leaving gumboot-deep silt in their homes, with water on one property over the roof, and the other about 1.5 metres high. Two of these properties were orchards – “were” being the operative word, as whichever trees were not flattened will most likely die from lack of oxygen to the tree roots.
One property had four homes inundated, the other had a new 36-bed accommodation unit, in addition to their home, flooded. In both cases, the occupants were rescued from their rooftops. Thirty-eight people were rescued from the accommodation block, four at a time by a neighbour’s helicopter.
Floors, ceilings, all furniture and household items were filled with water and mud. Farm machinery, cars, utes, motorhomes, caravans and tractors stored in and around the orchard sheds were floating and had to be pulled out for later destruction.
The Rotary Club of Greenmeadows itself lost all its material for its annual Art Exhibition, which was stored in one orchard shed.
“We have lost our major fundraising project,” said club member Brian Hall. “It is not viable given so many supporters of the exhibition have been adversely impacted by the event.
A $45,000 plus income lost this year.”
But members have not been deterred. They have been busy supporting the community and each other, clearing and cleaning the homes and sheds affected. Others have manned the evacuation centres, supported food distribution with Nourish for Nil, spent countless hours baking, cleared the greens at a local golf course, “resuscitated” native seedlings swamped and swept into corners at a large native nursery, and manned a digger to clear mud from driveways, gardens and the piles of discarded household goods and equipment.
“The club’s support of victims will be an ongoing program, as it will take years to restore orchards, homes, gardens, etc.,” Brian said.
“And I am aware that the other Rotary clubs in Hawkes Bay have been out getting very muddy too, supporting their members and the community.”