We are here in Hawkes Bay visiting the Deaf Club and Deaf Aotearoa staff. The local Deaf Community was invited to come to the office for a shared lunch and catch up to share their experiences through Cyclone Gabrielle. We also discussed other things such as ACE Workshops and what the community would like to see. It was lovely being able to meet the community and have a catch up.
We have a few photos and a story from Tanya Smiley, President of Hawkes Bay Deaf Club.
There was alot of rain, flooding and wind. I was in Auckland for a meeting at the time when it started. My daugther videocalled me and begged me to come home, but I was not able to get back to Hawkes Bay. The cyclone was also impacting Auckland too so flights out of Auckland were cancelled.
I had to be patient and wait almost a week later, 5 days, before I was able to fly out of Auckland to Gisborne. I saw that Gisborne was also impacted with flooding everywhere. When I finally got home to Hawkes Bay, I found that my home was fully flooded. It was a very emotional time for me. I decided that I needed to take action and focus on my family first to make sure everyone was okay. Then I reached out to the local Deaf Community to offer support where I could. Some members of the Deaf Community had lost their homes, their car, or their loved ones. It was a very emotional time.
Becuase many roads and bridges were closed we could only reach out to people through videocalling to check up on our friends. We had to think about what we can do to help, like those who didn’t have power would need torches and other supplies. Internet access was a big problem with many people not being able to connect because there were power cuts.
We need to become more resilient and better prepared in case an emergency happens again in the future. I beleive that something like this will happen again in Hawkes Bay like an earthquake. Hawkes Bay did experience a huge earthquake in 1931 and it will happen here again. We need to make sure that were are prepared for the worse-case scenario.
Some Deaf Community members have made it through without too much trouble, but others have gone through difficulties, emotional and traumatically. They have stayed together with their families. Many Deaf people have chosen to stay with their families rather than going with the Deaf Community. For many people, family comes first. People were concerned about their children which is understandable. We do not judge them.
It’s been a traumatic time for many people, often affecting their mental health. It’s hard. I hope everyone in New Zealand stays well and safe.