14 Feb 2023
Surf Lifeguards in Northland and Auckland have been kept busy overnight assisting their local communities, which have been severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. That’s despite several Surf Life Saving Clubs in the Northern Region receiving major damage and facing an uncertain future as a result of the wild weather.
Surf lifeguards assisted more than 200 members of the Muriwai community overnight, temporarily housing them in the Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service surf club after an emergency evacuation was issued due to flooding and landslides. Affected residents have since been further evacuated to Waimauku by Police, defence forces, and emergency services.
Meanwhile at Piha, Surf Lifeguards continue to assist Police and FENZ in conducting welfare checks on residents affected by flooding, while the Piha Surf Life Saving Club has opened its doors to some residents who have had to be evacuated from their homes. Up the road in Karekare, surf lifeguards have been providing assistance to residents whose homes have been damaged by significant landslips, as well as assisting urban search and rescue as they check on those trapped in unstable areas.
Regional lifeguards staying at Bethells Beach had to be evacuated early this morning as the swollen estuary carved away more than 50 metres of sand bank overnight. The estuary has since caused significant damage to the clubhouse, washing away the deck and threatening the main clubrooms. Despite this, members of the club’s Search and Rescue squad have been out checking on neighbours and those at risk in the community.
In Northland, surf lifesaving volunteers have been responding to flooded homes and workplaces in Dargaville. Lifeguards from Whangārei Heads, Ruakākā and Baylys Beach Search and Rescue squads responded with two IRBs to assist with evacuations and flood rescues at high tide on Monday evening. They were again tasked to support flood responses on Tuesday morning. This included the evacuation of an elderly man, as well as welfare checks in areas at risk of further flooding.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) Lifesaving Operations Manager James Lea has urged the public to stay away from all coastlines in the region as surf lifeguards work on rescue and recovery efforts within their own communities.
“Our ability to respond to any incident has been severely impacted, and at this stage we are expecting that coastlines in western Auckland will have limited services for quite some time.
“We urge the public to stay away from all coastlines as we respond to the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle. Please stay home, and stay away from the coast. We are not currently resourced to support you if something should go wrong.
He says that anyone who is in trouble should call 111 and ask for Police.
SLSNR CEO Matt Williams expressed his gratitude to the volunteers who have been supporting their communities during the Cyclone.
“Thank you to everyone who has been out braving the wind, rain and floodwaters over the past 48 hours, as well as all of those who have been supporting them behind the scenes,” he says.
“These recent events go to show just how crucial our surf life saving clubs are to our local communities, as well as the dynamic role they play during major emergencies.”
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