May 25, 2024
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By RNZ

After six months, there are no more piles on the side of the road in Puketapu (west of Napier) where Cyclone Gabrielle caused the silt to accumulate.

Contractors’ heavy machinery is rolling along roads with green grass and sprouts replacing the mud, yet some are still waiting for the future.

Puketapu has made progress, as evidenced by the reopened bar.

Emma Tuck’s family and she clung on to their roofs in February 14 as the floodwaters rose around them.

The ceiling was smashed, and the two had managed to climb through.

Tuck and Kerry Hamlin prepared for the storm by staying in Hastings, rather than their flat. They purchased bottled water, and secured windy items like plants.

They weren’t prepared for what would come.

Tuck, Tuck’s partner, Tuck’s aunt and the four children she was with were all rescued from the helicopter by a rescuer after enduring a 5-hour ordeal.

Over time, I am remembering more. In the beginning, I was just like, “This is what happened.” It’s time to get more specific.

It’s still hard to believe how we managed to get through that roof. There was no other way to get out of the roof, so we were praying that a helicopter would come to rescue us.

This house has not been rebuilt. The red sticker indicates that the home is uninhabitable and it’s on land classified in category 3.

Tuck says her old bedroom was in there. However, the entire front is missing.

She still operates her business in Dartmoor, despite living on the coast, Westshore. They plan to relocate there if Dartmoor’s classification changes.

Westshore may be my “now home”, but my children keep asking when Granddad will fix the real house so that they can move in to their real home. “That breaks my hearts.”

Tuck’s family and she were still searching for her items a week later, after their rooftop experience.

Hamlin’s flat, sadly, was destroyed completely by the floods.

Hamlin located a container that was damaged and bruised about 8 km from my home. I still managed to save some clothes, just in time for the 21st anniversary of my granddaughter.

The only thing I found was a perfume bottle and some bracelets.

To me, it feels like I’m starting over. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t.

The long commute to visit her grandchildren also made it difficult for her.

Hamlin & Tuck reviewed the text messages they sent on February 14, a few weeks ago.

Tuck’s family was worried about her when she believed her time had ended. She tried to convince them that everything was okay.

When I’m old, they ask, “Did you feel that you’re over?” So, when I was dying, my kids asked, “Mum, will you hold my hand?” “Hold my hands,” I responded.

Then, we believed we had no place to go. The only place we could go was back. We’re all together, this is who we are.

A family was afraid that heavy objects, like containers and logs, could crash into their house due to the power of the flood.

Tuck said in February they were inspired to create the film by Bayleigh Takie’s death as a child 12 years prior.

The song they remembered was Bayleigh You Are My Sunshine when the floodwaters started rising above the home’s gutters.

Tuck says that despite the mood swings she has, she is staying strong to protect her children.

Olly and his wife were saved from their house by using kayaks in Puketapu.

The back of the household items was drying after the cyclone.

Midgley, his wife and their possessions are still being sorted six months later. They want to know what they can save and what has to be thrown out.

Before they start rebuilding their cottage, they can first rebuild their home.

Walls inside the home were removed above the mark of 1.9 metres.

Midgley’s wife and he had been living in the campervan for 5 months. However, they did not intend to stay long.

It would not take long for the builders to rush into this area and start chipping away. In the beginning, we thought it could take up to a year.

The backyard needed a great deal of work, since water sat there for such a long time. Some of the trees in our backyard were dying or dead, and we will have to replant grass.

Renters could work from their rental.

“[We are] cleaning and tidying up a lot of stuff. All the cutlery and silverware was sitting out for over five months.

Only now do we have the means to handle it, namely water blasting.

It’s not possible to remove the silt in the dishwasher. It is necessary to wash and clean each item individually.

Midgley has more items to sort in his garage, but on the 14th of February two classic cars were there.

They were both underwater, but the one on the right was getting back to normal and the second was being repaired.

Midgley was more optimistic in Puketapu.

Today’s day is different. He said that he was able to stay and rebuild in the same place.

Tuck Hamlin’s family and Tuck lived together in the hope to be home again and with their loved ones when things changed.

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