Cyclone Gabrielle: Adventists respond amidst New Zealand’s declared state of emergency

Partnering with the local ANT Trust, Kaitaia Adventist Church opened its doors to provide relief for the community.

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Only two weeks after Auckland was struck by flood waters, New Zealand declared a national state of emergency this Tuesday (February 14) as Cyclone Gabrielle—the worst storm to hit the country in this century—devastated the North Island. The cyclone displaced more than 10,000 and four have been confirmed dead.

According to ADRA New Zealand program manager Sally Lavea, there has been significant damage, in particular in Northland along the coastal regions.

“Flooding, landslips, fallen trees and downed power lines all creating havoc for those service providers trying to restore access and services across the various regions,” said Ms Lavea.

“People were struggling today to come to terms with the incredible loss of life, property, animals, roads and crops—from Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel, Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti, including Gisborne,” she added.

Damage to Adventist-owned buildings is still being assessed. A few Adventist schools across the North Island were hit by strong winds and heavy rain causing flooding, but no major damages have been reported so far.

“While our schools may have escaped relatively lightly, we pray for those parents and members of staff whose homes have been more seriously affected and whose communications and infrastructure have been disrupted—in some cases, seriously,” said Adventist Education director for the region Dan Carrasco.

In efforts to ease the impact, ADRA sent communications the week before, encouraging churches to follow best disaster-ready practices, including how to make an emergency plan. This week ADRA has opened up its “Love Thy Neighbour” response for local churches to register and engage in the response efforts in their local communities affected by flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle.

Church members in Auckland are volunteering at local centres. In Kaitaia, the local Adventist church has partnered with the trusts in the area to open its doors and provide food packs, information, and clothing.

“A combination of church members and Trust staff are gladly working together, transforming the church hall into a centre of wellbeing—reaching out and connecting with many whānau/families and individuals—providing relief from emotional stress in practical and relational ways. The church facilities became a hive of activity for three days,” said church pastor Shane Harper.

Church leaders wanting to respond and needing help with funding can reach out to Ms Lavea at:

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